By announcing that 31 M1 Abrams tank could arrive in Ukraine by the autumn, one of America's strongest weapons is now closer to war. But even the quicker-than-expected delivery would not likely reach the battlefield in time for the start of an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive, one in which Western allies appear to have fallen short of providing the weapons that U.S. military officials believe Ukraine needs.
According to documents that have been leaked, classified assessments of the war by the U.S. military show that they believe 253 tanks will be needed for the counteroffensive. By late February, however only 200 tanks had been ordered, of which 60 were manufactured by Western manufacturers, the type of advanced weaponry requested by Ukraine.
Documents from late February or early March offer a snapshot of the preparations for a counteroffensive. Since the assessment was dated, more weapons and artillery has been shipped to Ukraine. The documents show not only the gaps in Ukraine’s arsenal, but also how Western allies struggle to deliver their promised tanks and weapons systems.
Here are five of the most important weapons pledged:
Leaked assessments reveal that 140 tanks, or more than half of the total, are refurbished Soviet-era vehicles, some of which come from Ukraine's arsenal. Documents dated February 28 indicated that at least 12 tanks were missing from each of three Ukrainian brigades preparing for the counteroffensive.
Documents also stated that 60 Western tanks from Britain, Canada and Germany, as well as tank-like reconnaissance vehicles from France, would be delivered to Ukraine before April, when the 31 Abrams Tanks are expected to arrive.
Air Defense Systems
The first Patriot battery was delivered to Ukraine this week. It is a U.S. air defense system considered one of the most advanced in terms of shooting down cruise missiles and warplanes. The first Patriot battery arrived 19 months after Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Resnikov said that he requested them. Allies have agreed to send only one additional Patriot battery.
Documents indicate that the United States will send six more NASAM air defense systems to Ukraine, including one each from Canada and Norway. Germany also recently delivered the second of its four IRIS T systems.
On March 1, Ukraine had only 9,800 155 mm rounds supplied by the U.S. on hand, and it was estimated that they would run out in a few days. The U.S. continued to deliver 30,000 more rounds over the next 12 day.
At this point, Ukraine is insatiable for 155mm rounds, and manufacturers of ammunition in the United States, Europe, and Asia say that it will take many years to meet the demand.
Officials said that Slovakia completed the transfer of 13 MiG-29 fighter planes to Ukraine this week. Poland shipped some of its four promised MiG-29 jets earlier in the month.
The Biden administration, however, has refused to deliver the sophisticated F-16s made in the United States. This week, a Ukrainian legislator accused the United States for preventing other countries from transferring F-16s to Ukraine.
Biden's administration is also adamant it won't send Ukraine Army Tactical Missile Systems with 190-mile range, which can hit targets as far away as 190 miles. Ukraine claims the missiles will help it reclaim Crimea - the peninsula Russia illegally annexed in 2014. U.S. officials, however, are worried that they could be used by Russia to attack targets inside Russia.
The United States offered to send small diameter bombs with a 90-mile range. They must be first built and even a small production could take several months.
This article was originally published in
The New York Times
By Lara Jakes
The New York Times Company