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Putin Would Freak: Could America Send M1 Abrams Tanks and ATACMS to Ukraine?

M1 Abrams. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
The Abrams Main Battle Tank closes with and destroys the enemy using mobility, firepower, and shock effect.

Western military assistance continues to flow in Ukraine as the war nears the one-year mark. 

Today, the defense ministers of 50 NATO members and partners are meeting in Germany for the 8th Defense Contact Group to discuss further security assistance to Kyiv.

Already leading up to the meeting, several countries have announced further military aid to Ukraine.

Sadly, it was decided that no Leopard 2 tanks would flow to Ukraine for now from Berlin. 

More Weapons to Ukraine 

Leading up to the meeting, nine countries, including the United Kingdom, Poland, and the Netherlands, issued a joint statement, committing “to collectively pursuing delivery of an unprecedented set of donations including main battle tanks, heavy artillery, air defence, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.”

However, Germany continues to block transfers of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

In a record package for the country, Estonia announced that it would be sending dozens of 155mm and 122mm howitzers with trucks, thousands of artillery shells, and more than 100 Carl Gustaf 84mm anti-tank weapons with over 1,000 missiles. The security aid package is worth over $120 million.

“We, the 50 nations, are determined to support Ukraine as long as it takes. Putin did not count on the determination of Ukraine and us. This is a crucial moment for Ukraine and the world,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

In addition, Sweden has agreed to send Ukraine 50 CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles and 12 Archer 155mm self-propelled howitzers. The CV-90 comes with great mechanical reliability and firepower, and it would help the Ukrainian counteroffensives. 

“We’re proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with [Ukraine], our partners & allies to support Ukraine’s self-defense. A collective of nearly 50 nations of goodwill are united behind you,” Austin added.

Canada is also donating 200 armored personnel carriers and is exploring the possibility of sending Leopard 2 main battle tanks—though German approval would still be necessary. 

The U.S. Package 

As the largest donor of military aid to Ukraine, the U.S. couldn’t be absent from the latest round of weapon shipments to Ukraine. On Thursday evening, the White House announced a $2.5 billion military aid package to Kyiv. 

This is the 30th U.S. package of military aid, and it includes 8 AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air defense systems, more Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) with 590 TOW anti-tank missiles and 295,000 rounds of 25mm ammunition (the previous military aid package gave 50 M2 Bradleys to Ukraine), 90 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) with 20 mine rollers; 53 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs).

But the U.S. is still hesitant to send some of the weapon systems the Ukrainians have repeatedly been asking for, such as M1 Abrams tanks and the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

“Our judgment to date has been that the juice isn’t really working the squeeze on the ATACMs. You never know, that judgment at some point could change, but we’re not there yet on the ATACMs,” Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl said last weekend. 

The ATACMS missile is used by the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and can reach targets up to 190 miles—more than twice the current range of the Ukrainian weapon systems. 

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But the ATACMS and M1 Abrams could be key if the Ukrainians attempt to liberate the Crimean Peninsula, which the Russians have been illegally occupying since 2014.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.