DC should send Ukraine M1 Abrams tanks and lead by example
We’re “not there yet,” said Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl this week on the question of sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. But we should be.
A victory for Vladimir Putin in Ukraine would be a disastrous strategic blow to US interests in the region. That outweighs any concern about providing tanks, which (unlike missile systems) are far harder to use against targets within Russian territory. And the M1 Abrams is a battle-tested tool with diverse uses — especially in urban warfare, a key Ukrainian theater.
Yes, President Joe Biden’s hesitancy on providing Ukraine the weapons it actually needs to win the war can be chalked up to fears of escalation. But the Russian thugocrat has proved the chief escalator, constantly upping the brutality and scope of his attacks. Turning Ukraine to dust has been his “strategy” for months now.
Team Biden’s balk on tanks is all the more puzzling since the Marine Corps ditched its armored battalions in 2020, retiring 450-plus M1 tanks. Refusing to send at least some to Ukraine is utterly perverse — especially since we’ve sold many M1s to next-door Poland the past two years, including some of the ex-Marine tanks.
Plus: German officials have suggested that they won’t let allies provide Ukraine any German-made Leopard tanks — a NATO favorite — unless we send Abrams ones. Britain’s lagging in tank aid, too. US leadership can and should move the alliance to do what’s needed: Ukraine’s top commander, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, says the nation needs 300 tanks.
Biden’s dithering on this — as the White House has dithered on MiGs, advanced missile systems and other aid, even as it eventually goes along — is only empowering Putin.