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Germany and the U.S. will be sending tanks to Ukraine after all

After some back and forth, Germany agreed to initially send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to help Ukraine in its war effort against Russia

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A French serviceman stands on a Leclerc main battle tank during an exercise at a training range in Smardan, eastern Romania.

A French serviceman stands on a Leclerc main battle tank during an exercise at a training range in Smardan, eastern Romania, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. Germany has agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to help Ukraine in its war effort against Russia.

Vadim Ghirda, Associated Press

After some back and forth, Germany has agreed to initially send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to help Ukraine in its war effort against Russia.

The U.S. will also send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, making German Chancellor Olaf Scholz feel more comfortable with also sending tanks to the country. The tanks will likely be used to help Kyiv regain territory Russia seized and would also mark “a significant step in Western allies’ supply of ever heavier weapons to Kyiv,” The New York Times reported.

Why was Germany hesitant at first to send tanks to Ukraine?

Germany has around 2,000 tanks that are placed in countries all over Europe. Scholz was initially hesitant to commit to sending the tanks to Ukraine because, since the Berlin Wall came down in the country and after the atrocities of World War II, Germans seek to “be seen as a partner, not an aggressor,” Steven E. Sokol, president of the American Council on Germany, told the Times.

The country also resisted the requests for the tanks at first because it “did not want to be seen as a direct participant in the war or inviting a potential retaliation from Russia,” The Washington Post reported.

The plan is to eventually put together two Leopard tank battalions, which adds up to at least 70 tanks, to send to Ukraine. It will start with providing the 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks.

“We will do anything necessary to support Ukraine, but we want to avoid an escalation of this war, so it doesn’t become a war between Russia and NATO,” Scholz said, per the Post.

What are Abrams tanks?

President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, “reversing the administration’s longstanding resistance to requests from Kyiv for the highly sophisticated but maintenance-heavy vehicles,” CNN reported.

“The Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world. They’re also extremely complex to operate and maintain, so we’re also giving Ukraine the parts and equipment necessary to effectively sustain these tanks on the battlefield. We’ll begin to train the Ukrainian troops on these issues of sustainment, logistics and maintenance as soon as possible,” Biden said, per CNN.

To utilize the tanks, Ukrainian soldiers will require extensive training, which they can work on during the months it will take for the tanks to arrive in Ukraine.

“This is a tremendous new capability that Ukraine will be getting to boost its long-term defenses,” a senior administration official said, per CNN.