U.S. Senators urged the Pentagon to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, and according to the Associated Press, preparation is underway.
In a press briefing after a trip to Ukraine, a bipartisan group of Senators urged the Biden administration to send tanks as soon as possible.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the issue of tanks has become “center stage” in the world.
“We’re convinced that the Ukrainians need heavy tanks, that the best tank for the fight is the German Leopard tank that American tanks can be helpful in this regard. If we send some Abrams tanks, it will open the floodgates to more tanks coming from allies,” he said.
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Graham said it is “impossible” to dislodge Russians from Ukraine without tanks.
According to Graham, the goal is to give Ukraine the weapons they need to beat Russians on the battlefield, not to send in U.S. troops or start World War III.
“I am more optimistic today than any time in recent memory about military assistance going into Ukraine in the form of tanks,” Graham said.
Graham hopes Germany will send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, saying this is a “moment for Germany to shine” and to “be a force of good.”
“The sooner you can make this decision, the better off for the world,” he said, adding that the day Germany sends tanks and allows allies to send their tanks “is a day closer to liberating Ukraine and ending this nightmare.”
Graham is urging the U.S. to lead by example and follow the precedent set by the United Kingdom as it sends 14 Challenger tanks to Ukraine.
The United States is reportedly preparing to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, according to top U.S. officials.
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The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the decision could be announced by Wednesday, but it could take months or years for the tanks to be delivered.
According to U.S. officials, details of the plan are still being worked out. It is unknown how many tanks would be approved.
One official said the tanks would be bought under an upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package, AP reports.
This comes as Germany seems poised to approve Poland’s request to transfer Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to reports.
The U.S. has been hesitant to send tanks to the front lines of the ongoing battle in Ukraine.
Russian officials have warned western leaders that supplying Ukraine with more powerful weapons could cause a “global tragedy.”
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. General Pat Ryder would not confirm whether the U.S. has any plans to send tanks to Ukraine during a press briefing Tuesday.
He said the Pentagon has no announcements about Abram tanks for Ukraine but that discussions about what they may need in the medium to long term will continue.
When asked about the tanks, he said M1 tanks are a “capable battlefield platform.” The U.S. would want to ensure Ukraine has the ability to maintain, sustain and train on the tanks, Ryder added.
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Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the time to send tanks is now.
“I want to thank President Biden for saying that Ukraine will get everything it needs to win I wish he had added ‘everything it needs to win now,'” he said. “There is an urgency to now, time is not on our side.”
He said the Russians are coming, and their onslaught will begin in weeks, not months, according to both Ukrainian and U.S. intelligence.
“The Ukrainians can win if they have the tools that are necessary, beginning with tanks,” he said.
He said the Leopard tanks are important because they are already in Europe, making transport, training, and fueling easy.
“If it takes sending three, five, 10 Abrams tanks there, let’s do it,” he said. “The Pentagon ought to come forward with those tanks if that’s what is necessary for the Germans to give permission to our allies to provide the Leopard 2 tanks and for the Germans to provide those tanks themselves.”
Both Senators also expressed the need to send Ukraine more long-range missiles, HIMARS, Patriot systems, and civilian infrastructure support like generators.
Graham said long-range missiles long are needed to counter the Russian offensive building in the east.
“We’re not asking for a blank check; we’re asking for a big check with oversight and scrutiny,” Blumenthal said.