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US won’t fulfill Ukrainian request – WaPo

US won’t fulfill Ukrainian request – WaPo
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Thursday, 05 January, 2023, 21:06

The US will not send M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing officials. Despite repeated requests from the Ukrainian government, no NATO power has donated Western-designed battle tanks since the conflict with Russia began.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that the Abrams tanks’ heavy fuel consumption and propensity to break down make them unsuitable for the Ukrainian military.

One of the heaviest main battle tanks in service worldwide, the M1 Abrams weighs in at 60 tons, with the latest M1A2 variant increasing this heft to more than 73 tons. An M1 Abrams tank costs more than $450 per mile in fuel and repairs, according to a 1991 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report adjusted for inflation.

The Abrams’ poor reliability was noted by the GAO. After a decade in service with the US military, the report stated that the average M1 Abrams needs its track replaced after as little as 710 miles, with engines typically suffering catastrophic “blowouts” after 350 hours of operation. However, the US Army insists that the latest M1A2 variant, which rolled off production lines in 2020, “is the most reliable Abrams tank ever produced.”

Ukraine has repeatedly requested delivery of the American-made behemoths, portraying them as crucial to its war effort. Mikhail Podoliak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, put them on his “Christmas wishlist” in a social media post last month, while Zelensky has himself repeatedly asked the US and its allies for tanks since March.

Zelensky and his officials have singled out Germany in particular, asking Berlin for Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard main battle tanks on multiple occasions. Germany has thus far rebuffed these requests, with lawmaker and Bundestag Foreign Policy Committee member Michael Mueller telling reporters this week that sending the tanks could trigger “an escalation that none of us want to imagine.”

France on Wednesday became the first NATO member to announce the transfer of Western-made “light tanks” to Ukraine, although the vehicles in question – six-wheeled AMX-10 units – are outdated, and technically closer to armored fighting vehicles than tanks such as the Abrams or Leopard.