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U.S. Leans Toward Providing Abrams Tanks to Ukraine

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration is leaning toward sending a significant number of Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine and an announcement of the deliveries could come this week, U.S. officials said.

The announcement would be part of a broader diplomatic understanding with Germany in which Berlin would agree to send a smaller number of its own Leopard 2 tanks and would also approve the delivery of more of the German-made tanks by Poland and other nations. It would settle a trans-Atlantic disagreement over the tanks that had threatened to open fissures as the war drags into the end of its first year.

The White House declined to comment.

The deal would address a rift between the U.S. and the Germans and other Europeans over providing tanks for Ukraine during a pivotal phase of the war. Kyiv is preparing a counteroffensive to try to take back Ukrainian territory and Russia is mobilizing troops for its own operations.

The shift in the U.S. position follows a call on Jan. 17 between President Biden and German Chancellor

Olaf Scholz

in which Mr. Biden agreed to look into providing the Abrams tanks against the judgment of the Pentagon. A senior German official said that the issue had been the subject of intense negotiation between Washington and Berlin for more than a week and appeared to be on the way to resolution.

A German-built Leopard tank was used in a military exercise in May in Nowogard, Poland.


wojtek radwanski/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Military officials have argued publicly that the Abrams tanks require a substantial amount of training and logistics support and therefore aren’t appropriate for this moment in the conflict.

It comes less than a week after a contentious meeting at Ramstein base in Germany at which the U.S. and its allies failed to persuade Germany to allow other nations to send German-made tanks, exposing the first serious rift in the alliance that has supported Kyiv.

Previously, the Pentagon had ruled out providing the tanks to Ukraine, saying they were too complicated for the Ukrainians to maintain and operate. But White House and State Department officials were described as being more open to providing Abrams to break the diplomatic logjam holding up Leopard deliveries.

Some Democratic lawmakers close to the White House, such as Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, have also urged that some Abrams be provided.

The Engels air base, a key aviation hub, was one of the targets of strikes inside Russian territory. WSJ explains what images and videos of the incidents can tell us about Kyiv’s tactics to destabilize Moscow far from the front lines. Photo composite: Eve Hartley via Planet Labs/Maxar

—Bojan Pancevski contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com and Gordon Lubold at gordon.lubold@wsj.com

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