RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AP) — The United States will begin training Ukrainian forces in the coming weeks to use and maintain Abrams tanks, as it continues to accelerate its efforts to get them onto the battlefield against Russia as soon as possible. possible, US officials said on Friday.
The decision comes as defense leaders from across Europe and the world meet at Ramstein Air Base in Germany as part of ongoing efforts to coordinate the delivery of weapons and other equipment to Ukraine. An announcement is expected later on Friday.
According to officials, the 31 tanks will arrive at the Grafenwoehr training ground in Germany at the end of May, and the troops will begin training a few weeks later. Officials said the troop’s training will last about 10 weeks. The training tanks will not be the ones given to Ukraine as it fights a Russian invasion. Instead, 31 M1A1 main battle tanks are being rebuilt in the United States, and they will go to the front lines when they are ready.
The goal was to train the troops by the time the refurbished tanks were ready so that they could immediately go into battle. The tanks are being overhauled to meet the needs of Ukraine.
According to officials, about 250 Ukrainian soldiers will be trained – some of whom will learn to operate tanks and others to repair and maintain them. Additional training on how to fight and maneuver tanks could also be provided after the first 10 weeks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details that have not been made public.
President Joe Biden’s administration announced in January that it would send Abrams tanks to Ukraine — after insisting for months that they were too complicated and difficult to maintain and repair. The decision was part of a wider political maneuver that opened the door for Germany to announce that it would send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow Poland and other allies to do the same.
Under intense pressure from Ukraine and others to get the tanks to Ukraine more quickly, the Biden administration announced last month that it would speed up the delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, opting to send a refurbished older model that can be ready more quickly. The goal is to bring the 70-ton combat power plants to the war zone by the fall.
The US made it clear at the time that it would begin training Ukrainian forces in how to use, maintain and repair the tanks and that the instruction would coincide with the refurbishment of the tanks so that both would be combat-ready at the same time later this year.
At the same time, the Pentagon must ensure that Ukrainian forces have an adequate supply chain for all the parts needed to maintain the tanks.
Russian and Ukrainian forces were largely at a stalemate, trading small pieces of land over the winter. The fiercest battles have been fought in the eastern region of Donetsk, where Russia is struggling to encircle the city of Bakhmut in the face of stubborn Ukrainian defenses. But both sides are expected to launch more intense offensives in the spring.