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US speeds up deployment of tanks to battlefront in Ukraine

The United States is accelerating the delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, choosing to send a refurbished old model, which can be sent to the front by autumn, the Department of Defense (Pentagon) announced today.

The Americans’ original plan called for sending 31 of the latest M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine, which could take a year or two to build and ship.

But the Pentagon stressed today that the decision was made to send the older version, the M1A1, which can be drawn from Army reserves, and this model will also be easier for Ukrainian forces to learn to maneuver and fight invading Russian forces. , reported the Associated Press (AP) agency.

“It’s about getting this important combat capability into the hands of the Ukrainians sooner rather than later,” said Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder.

Joe Biden’s administration announced in January the deployment of tanks to Ukraine, after insisting for months that they were too complicated, difficult to maintain and repair.

Washington’s decision was part of a broader political maneuver that opened the door for Germany to announce that it would send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow Poland and other allies to do the same.

During a press conference at the Pentagon, Ryder said that the tanks will be refurbished and made ready for combat in Ukraine, without specifying where that work will be done.

It is also unclear when the US will begin training Ukrainian forces in the use, maintenance and repair of Abrams.

The intention is to make troop training coincide with tank refurbishment so that both are ready for battle at the same time later this year, said US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Russian and Ukrainian forces are at an impasse, fighting over small portions of land during the winter. The fiercest battles took place in the eastern region of Donetsk, where Russia struggles to encircle the city of Bakhmut in the face of stubborn Ukrainian defence.

Both sides are expected to launch more intense offensives in the spring.

Asked about the timing of the arrival of the tanks on the battlefield, Ryder indicated that the Abrams are part of the medium and long-term military support that the US is providing to Ukraine.

The Pentagon spokesperson stressed that as Ukrainian forces regain territory, they will also need to sustain those gains and prevent Russia from regaining it again.

Ukrainian authorities have persistently pushed for the Abrams, which were first deployed to the war in 1991 and have thick armor, a 120mm main gun, armor-piercing capability and advanced targeting systems.

The military offensive launched on February 24, 2022 by Russia in Ukraine has so far caused the flight of more than 14.6 million people – 6.5 million internally displaced and more than 8.1 million to European countries –, according to with the latest data from the UN, which classifies this refugee crisis as the worst in Europe since the Second World War (1939-1945).

At the moment, at least 18 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian aid and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and shelter.

The Russian invasion – justified by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, with the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security – was condemned by the international community in general, which has responded by sending arms to Ukraine and imposing it on Russia of political and economic sanctions.

The UN presented as confirmed since the beginning of the war 8,317 dead civilians and 13,892 wounded, underlining that these numbers are far below the real ones.

*With Lusa

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