Already nearing the one-year mark, President Joe Biden signaled an even more protracted conflict between Russia and Ukraine Wednesday, reversing the Pentagon’s position and moving forward with promising the Ukrainian military 31 tanks that could take until 2024 to arrive.
Speaking briefly from the Roosevelt Room, Biden touted the continued support for the war-torn nation that comes at the cost of billions of dollars for the American taxpayer and strayed quite a ways from his “deterring sanctions” imposed last year. His announcement confirmed earlier reports that the United States would be moving forward with sending 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks paid for by the congressionally approved Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
The tanks will “enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives,” Biden argued as he admitted, “Delivering these tanks to the field is going to take time. Time that we’ll see and we’ll use to make sure the Ukrainians are fully prepared.”
Tune in as I deliver remarks on our continued support for Ukraine. https://t.co/kE6LoH14qa
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 25, 2023
The president’s statement was a bit of an understatement as White House officials told the press Wednesday it could take as much as a year for tanks to be purchased and packaged to be sent to the Ukrainian forces which require extensive training to both operate and maintain the battalion.
Furthermore, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh had thrown cold water on the initiative days ago, pointing out how “it just doesn’t make sense to provide [M1s] to the Ukrainians at this moment” because they run on jet fuel.
In addition to the tanks, the commitment was reported to include eight M88 recovery vehicles designed to support them and around 500 other varied armored vehicles. Politically, the move from the United States also facilitated Germany taking similar actions and agreeing to send some of their Leopard 2 tanks to assist the Ukrainians, a model that is more in line with the capabilities of their forces, opening the door for other European nations to do the same as the German-made tank requires approval from their government to be deployed.
“That’s what this is about: helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land,” Biden added Wednesday. “It is not an offensive threat to Russia.”
Meanwhile, before the official announcement, Russians didn’t see it that way as they were speaking out against the perceived escalation with Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Moscow Institute of the Middle East, going so far as to suggest a nuclear strike against the German parliament.
“German tanks with crosses on their armor will again march across Ukraine attacking Russian soldiers,” he said. “I have a natural reaction to this — the Soviet Union bombed Berlin in 1941.”
Russia mad, wants to go nuclearhttps://t.co/WVe0S9Gfxa
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) January 25, 2023
“And to me, this is a signal that the Reichstag, or Bundestag, which now replaces the Reichstag, simply should not remain standing any longer,” Satanovsky said before detailing how a nuclear strike would leave the Germans with “Flat, slightly radioactive, melted-down ground,” in its place.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had denied suggestions last week that the move was little more than a political ploy as he stated, “We don’t do things or employ capabilities as a notion, you know, for anything other than providing credible combat capability. And that’s where our focus will be in the future.”
That seemed to be negated by White House officials who touted the “continued diplomatic conversations that we’ve been having over the last few weeks” that included Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and their European equivalents.
The White House also made clear that Biden had spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of his announcement.
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