U.S. U-Turns, Will Send Soviet-made Tanks to Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expanded his request for military assistance in recent weeks, calling on NATO forces to deliver 1% of the West’s tanks and aircraft.
So far, the United States has been reluctant to provide more than weapons and ammunition and expand military aid to the delivery of aircraft. Sources familiar with discussions at the U.S. Department of Defense, however, say that the United States is now preparing to facilitate the transfer of Soviet-made tanks – which Ukrainian soldiers are already familiar with operating – to help Ukraine conduct long-range artillery strikes on Russian troops and targets.
What, Specifically, Is NATO Sending?
According to a report by The New York Times, the United States is expected to broker the transfers of T-72 Soviet tanks from the Soviet-era stocks of multiple NATO countries. The tanks have long been used by Ukraine, with the country inheriting a large fleet of the vehicles after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russian troops are also using T-72 Soviet tanks in their offensive in Ukraine.
The transfer is expected to take place within days, not weeks, according to CNN anchor Jim Sciutto.
“Breaking: US is expected to help facilitate transfer of tanks from NATO allies to Ukraine, according to senior US officials. The tanks will be Soviet-era T-72 tanks, which Ukrainian military has experience operating and will be delivered ‘within days, not weeks,’ I’m told,” Sciutto said on Twitter.
Poland is understood to be one of the NATO countries providing the tanks, though little in the way of details has been confirmed. Poland recently ordered a fleet of US M1AT Abram tanks designed to replace its old fleet of T-72 tanks, meaning a fleet of vehicles is readily available.
British Officials Demand Ukraine Sent “Weapons It Is Asking For”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland this week that Ukraine should be sent more heavy weapons to help push Russian soldiers out of the country. Truss said that NATO forces should give more weapons of the type requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“We also need even more weapons of the type the Ukrainians are asking for,” Truss said. “The fact is that being tough is the only approach that will work. Putin has escalated this war and this approach is vital to ensuring he loses in Ukraine and that we see a full withdrawal of Russian troops and Ukraine’s hand is strengthened at the negotiating table.”
The United Kingdom is not expected to provide any of its own tanks to Russia, but reports suggest that the British government will act as a facilitator – along with the United States – for other allied nations to supply the tanks.
The British government has also not ruled out the possibility of supplying anti-ship missiles to help Ukrainian troops prevent amphibious landings in Odessa.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.