THE US has agreed to send 31 battle tanks to Ukraine just hours after Russia threatened nuclear strikes on the West.
The US agreed to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine[/caption]
Germany will send 14 Leopard 2 tanks[/caption]
Biden said the battle tanks are to help Ukrainian fighters “improve their ability to manoeuvre in open terrain.”
The Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US for the “powerful decision” and tweeted: “It’s an important step on the path to victory.”
The US move follows Germany’s decision to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to war-torn Ukraine.
Bowing to international pressure, and calls from President Zelensky, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said will send the tanks to Ukraine, plus spare parts and ammo, and lift a ban on other countries sending theirs.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential administration Andriy Yermak hailed the tank announcements as a “historic day” and wrote on Telegram: “One of those days that will determine our future victory.”
But the move sparked fury among Russian propagandists who issued a chilling nuclear warning to Germany.
A high-profile Putin mouthpiece demanded Berlin’s Bundestag parliament should be reduced to radioactive ash in retaliation.
While Moscow TV pundit Yevgeny Satanovsky said warheads should be launched at the centre of German democracy.
The goal is for Germany and its allies to provide Ukraine with 88 of the German-made Leopards, ahead of a possible spring counter-offensive.
“This is the result of intensive consultations, once again, with our allies and international partners,” Chancellor Scholz said in an address to German lawmakers.
Scholz spoke on the phone with US President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and agreed to continue military support to Ukraine, the German chancellery said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Norway will also join other European countries and will send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine as part of Western aid, its defence minister announced Wednesday.
Speaking in an interview with Norwegian public television NRK the country’s defence minister Bjorn Arild Gram said: “Norway and the government support the donation of battle tanks to Ukraine. Norway will take part.”
The UK is already sending 14 Challenger 2s, answering Zelenksy’s plea for more modern weaponry.
Altogether, France, the UK, the US, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden will send hundreds of tanks and heavily armoured vehicles to support Ukraine.
Germany’s Leopards, fielded by armies across Europe, are widely seen as the best option as they are available in large numbers and easy to deploy and maintain.
Around 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks are in use by Ukraine’s allies.
Other countries that use Leopards include Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands, which have all sent weapons to Ukraine.
Tank maker Rheinmetall said it could offer 51 Leopard 2 and 88 older Leopard 1 tanks over the next 12 months.