Will the Ukraine war be over before the U.S. ships the promised Abrams tanks to Ukraine? The Ukraine conflict is at the start of the second year of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and as Victor Davis Hanson notes, it’s looking more like the 1930’s Spanish Civil War, which became “a savage proxy war and prelude for the belligerents of World War II.”
Abrams tanks represent the manageable risks and costs to the United States. According to the WSJ, the Biden administration said it would furnish 31 Abrams tanks, which is the size of a Ukrainian tank battalion.
Advanced Western equipment would help the Ukrainians narrow Russia’s tank advantage. Part of the U.S. calculus was to push Germany into providing its own Leopard tanks, which Berlin finally did after weeks of dithering. The hope is that some Leopards will be up and running on the country’s front lines this spring, which will be crucial to stopping new Russian advances.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters Thursday that none of the options for sending Abrams tanks are weeks or two months.
The options for providing tanks feature “longer timelines,” but “I think there are options that are less than two years, less than a year-and-a-half,” she said.
Two years is an eternity, especially in warfare, offers the WSJ.
(T)he Abrams offer increasingly looks like it was an insincere promise intended to give Germany’s government political cover to provide the Leopards. That may have been necessary as diplomacy but it isn’t enough to help the Ukrainians evict Russia. A Pentagon spokesman insisted on Jan. 26 that U.S. stocks “just don’t have these tanks available in excess” for immediate transfer, even though the U.S. Marines are retiring their Abrams fleet.
Tanks, not Words
The Biden Team has consistently refused to provide Ukraine some weapon or another, only to relent later. Another bad habit is announcing some purported bold step only to follow through at a glacial pace. Don’t be surprised if the same story plays out on fighter jets.
The Administration can get tanks, drones and long-range missiles into Kyiv’s hands if it summons the political will. President Biden promised this week in Poland that “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia,” but ensuring that result will require tanks, not words.
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