Western allies change course on sending tanks to Ukraine

Western allies have grappled for months with the diplomatic and practical details of sending tanks to Ukraine. Leaders in Germany finally relented to the pressure. And now, those in the US have too.

US officials have said that their main battle tank, the M1 Abrams, is tough to train on, hard to maintain, and needs to run on jet fuel. They have suggested that Ukrainians would struggle to operate it. But on Wednesday, they agreed to send 31 of them, which is enough for a battalion.

President Joe Biden said the US is "standing shoulder to shoulder with its allies and partners" and will "continue to do all we can to support Ukraine." He added that the Germans have "really stepped up."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday that his country would provide 14 of their main tanks, the Leopard 2. It will also allow other countries across Europe to send Leopard 2's from their arsenals.

Scholz said, "Since we are coordinating efforts on an international level, we will continue to ensure that this support is possible without the risk of our country going in the wrong direction."

German defense officials say delivering the tanks will take about three months. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants them sooner.

Zelenskyy said, "I am very thankful to the world for the support for Ukraine. But, speaking frankly, the number of tanks and the delivery time to Ukraine is critical."

Russian officials scolded German leaders for abandoning their "historical responsibility." They pointed to the legacy of World War Two and warned the tanks would push the war to a "new level of confrontation."