Ukraine has received the first batch of US-made M1 Abrams tanks, a long-awaited delivery that could boost its military capabilities in the ongoing conflict with Russia. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the arrival of the tanks on Monday, thanking the US for fulfilling its agreements and expressing hope to expand the supply of advanced weapons.
The Abrams tanks are considered among the world’s most sophisticated and powerful tanks, and have some technical advantages over the Soviet-era tanks used by both Ukrainian and Russian forces. The tanks are equipped with 120mm armor-piercing depleted uranium rounds, which are controversial due to their potential health and environmental effects.
The US had originally promised to deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine at the start of the year, but the delivery was delayed due to logistical and operational challenges. The US also provided a $325 million military aid package to Ukraine last month, which included anti-tank missiles, counter-artillery radars, drones, and other equipment.
The arrival of the Abrams tanks comes at a critical time for Ukraine, which has been engaged in a brutal counteroffensive against Russian-backed separatists since February 2022, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. Ukraine has recently breached the main Russian defensive line in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, and is pushing to expand the gap and cut off the land bridge connecting Russia to Crimea.
The US and its allies have expressed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and have imposed sanctions on Russia for its aggression. However, they have also urged both sides to de-escalate the situation and resume diplomatic talks to find a peaceful solution. The conflict has claimed more than 20,000 lives and displaced millions of people since it began in 2014.