The United States will be training Ukrainian troops on how to use and maintain Abrams tanks as they prepare to send 31 of these tanks to Germany’s Grafenwoehr Training Area by the end of May. The 250 Ukrainian troops will be trained to operate and repair the tanks, with additional training on combat operations and maneuvering provided later. The goal is to have them ready to immediately move to combat when the refurbished tanks are ready. The refurbished M1A1 battle tanks are being refitted to meet Ukraine’s needs and are expected to be sent to the war zone by the fall.
The decision to train Ukrainian troops on how to use Abrams tanks comes as defense leaders from around Europe and the world are meeting at Ramstein Air Base to coordinate the delivery of weapons and other equipment to Ukraine. The U.S. has already trained 8,800 Ukrainian troops who have returned to the battlefield, and another 2,500 are currently in training.
The announcement to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine was made by President Joe Biden’s administration in January. However, it was only last month that the Biden administration decided to speed up the delivery of the tanks by opting to send a refurbished older model that can be ready faster. This decision was made under intense pressure from Ukraine and other allies to get the tanks into Ukraine faster.
Russia and Ukraine have been largely in a stalemate, with both sides trading small slices of land over the winter. The fiercest battles have been in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russia is struggling to encircle the city of Bakhmut in the face of dogged Ukrainian defense. Both sides are expected to launch more intensive offensives in the spring. The British Ministry of Defense stated that soft ground conditions and mud across most of Ukraine will likely slow operations for both sides in the conflict.
However, tensions have escalated as Russia attacked Ukraine overnight with Iranian-made self-exploding Shahed drones. Ukraine’s General Staff reported that about 10 drones were launched at Ukrainian targets, and eight were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses. Six civilians have been killed and six more wounded in Ukraine over the past 24 hours, according to Ukrainian officials. Russian shelling and missile strikes have mostly targeted cities and villages in the embattled partially occupied regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. The Russian forces also attacked the Chernihiv province on Thursday from mortars, and overnight launched drones to attack Kyiv, as well as the Poltava and Vinnytsia regions.
The U.S. has condemned Russia’s recent attacks and called for an immediate end to the violence. The U.S. and its allies are closely monitoring the situation and stand ready to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.