The U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command confirmed this week that all 31 of the previously pledged M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine have been delivered, along with ammunition and spare parts. Moreover, the Ukrainian soldiers who trained on the American-made tanks with U.S. troops in Germany have also returned to their homeland.
“We have lived up to our end of the bargain. From this point forward, it is up to them (Ukraine) to determine when and where they will deliver this capability,” Colonel Martin O’Donnell, Spokesman for the USAREUR-AF told Voice of America.
“I think Ukraine will be deliberate in when and where they use it. The Abrams tank is one hell of an armored vehicle, but it’s not a silver bullet,” O’Donnell added. “Ultimately, it’s Ukraine’s determination to break through that matters most.”
President Joe Biden had confirmed in January that the United States would supply the tanks to aid Kyiv in its unprovoked war with Russia. The first batch of the M1 Abrams had arrived in September, VOA also reported. It is unclear when the U.S.-made MBTs could be deployed to the frontlines.
U.S. Heavy Metal
One of the latest aid packages from the United States also contained depleted uranium shells for the Abrams. The by-product of uranium enrichment, which is stripped of most – but not all – of its radioactive material, is strong enough to pierce conventional tank armor. Though the rounds retain some radioactive properties, they can’t generate a nuclear reaction like an atomic weapon. However, the 120mm uranium tank rounds are extremely dense, and when they penetrate armor they can actually catch fire.
The ordnance was initially developed by the United States during the Cold War to destroy Soviet tanks, including the T-72 MBTs now employed by the Russian military in large numbers.
Moscow has condemned Washington’s decision to send the ordnance to aid Ukraine, and even labeled it a criminal act, and accused the United States of being uncaring regarding the environmental hazards of depleted uranium.
“Hundreds of materials have been compiled and dozens of discussions have been conducted involving leading experts, environmental activists, medical doctors, and specialists in the chemical interactions in nature between minerals and living beings… But the Americans don’t care at all,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told state media outlet Tass last month.
In addition, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that the U.S. M1 Abrams will not change the balance of power on the battlefield, and noted that other Western-supplied MBTs – notably a number of the German-made Leopard 2 – have been destroyed in the fighting.
“Abrams tanks are serious weapons, but remember what the president said about other tanks made in another country,” the Kremlin mouthpiece said. “Well, these (Abrams) too will burn.”
No tank, not even the Abrams is invincible, but the question may be how much damage will the American MBTs can do in a fight!
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.