The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send US-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine and could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to three United States officials familiar with the deliberations.
The timing around the actual delivery of the tanks is still unclear and it normally takes several months to train troops to use the tanks effectively, officials said.
An announcement about the tanks could be part of an attempt to break a diplomatic logjam with Germany, which indicated to the US last week that it would not send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine unless the US also agreed to send its M1 Abrams tanks.
Top national security officials in the administration have been actively considering steps they could take to convince Germany to send the Leopards.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Tuesday that she suspects that the matter of tanks “will be resolved relatively soon.”
Asked about what was happening on the provision of tanks — German Leopards or US Abrams — Sherman did not give a specific answer, but said, “I think you’ll see in the days ahead resolution of some of these issues.”
“This is hard for everybody. Each country as President Biden has said has to make its own decisions about what weapons it wants to provide,” Sherman said in remarks at the City Club of Cleveland in Ohio Tuesday.
Some background: On Friday, at a meeting of Western defense leaders in Germany, the US and its allies failed to convince German officials to send the Leopards as part of Berlin’s next round of military assistance to Ukraine. But on Tuesday, the German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, “We are preparing our decision, which will come very soon” on the tanks.
Sky News Arabia was first to report the news that the US is considering sending the tanks.
The administration has never taken the possibility of shipping American tanks entirely off the table, but US officials said publicly last week that now is not the right time to send the 70-ton M1 Abrams tanks because they are costly and require a significant amount of training to operate.
The tanks have instead repeatedly been floated as a long-term option — even as critics say the right time is now, as Ukraine braces for the possibility Russia will mobilize more troops and launch a new offensive. The UK has already announced it will send 12 of their Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, crossing what had previously appeared to be a red line for the US and its European allies.
Ukraine’s President Volodomyr Zelensky has consistently asked Western allies for modern tanks as his country prepares braces for an expected major Russian counteroffensive in the spring.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.