In a significant strategy reversal for President Joe Biden, he announced on Wednesday that the United States would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, though Zelensky's forces won't see the rolling stock on their soil for months as readying and transporting the tanks while providing training to Ukraine's military will take time.
According to AP's dispatch on the news, the newest aid to Ukraine is a "$400 million package" that also "includes eight M88 recovery vehicles — tank-like tracked vehicles that can tow the Abrams if it gets stuck."
"Today I'm announcing that the United States will be sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the equivalent of one Ukrainian battalion," Biden said. "The Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world."
Biden said the gift of M1 Abrams tanks is about "helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land" and insisted it should not be perceived as "an offensive threat to Russia" because "there is no offensive threat to Russia," though it's unclear whether Putin will see the new development in the same way.
President Biden "Today I'm announcing that the United States will be sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the equivalent of one Ukrainian battalion...the Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world." pic.twitter.com/tCLxoKekFG— CSPAN (@cspan) January 25, 2023
Biden's announcement comes after Germany agreed to send 14 of its Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine — with a goal of expanding its contribution to a full 88 of the tanks over time — to make for two full battalions-worth of German-made tanks.
After making the announcement flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a reporter asked why Biden had reversed course on the decision of whether or not to provide tanks to Ukraine:
"Why are you taking this decision now? Did Germany force you to change your mind on sending tanks?"— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) January 25, 2023
Biden, laughing: "Germany didn't force me to change my mind...that's what we were gonna do all along." pic.twitter.com/J6yorogetk
But Biden's claim that sending tanks as part of the United States' aid to Ukraine was "what we were gonna do all along" just isn't true. Even most mainstream reports on Biden's Wednesday announcement noted that his decision was "abrupt" and a "major reversal."
As recently as Friday, senior Biden officials said the the president was not "inclined" to provide the Abrams tanks, because even his own Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley thought it was a bad idea. The Pentagon brass said they didn't believe Abrams tanks would "be a net positive for the Ukrainians given how difficult they are to operate and maintain," NBC News stated.
As for whether Biden's hand was forced by Germany, NBC also reported last week that "three U.S. officials said Berlin has tried to put the U.S. on the spot about sending Abrams tanks, and there has been frustration within the Biden administration with Germany over the back and forth," but officials insisted pressure from Germany was "not going to work."
Except it did, and Biden is again apparently a liar for saying he was always going to send tanks to Ukraine and that the Germans didn't force his hand.
Biden and his military brass, for whatever reason, decided to change their minds and disregard previous resistance to plunge ahead with putting America's primary battle tank in the middle of Russia's war against Ukraine.