U.S. and Germany to send tanks to Ukraine

After days of wrangling—including Britain pledging a couple of dozen retirement-age tanks and Poland threatening to send its own German-made tanks without permission—the U.S. and Germany have finally signalled their intention to supply Ukraine with main battle tanks.

The White House is expected to announce a decision as early as Wednesday, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. One official said the number of Abrams tanks could be about 30. Over the past month, Pentagon officials had expressed misgivings about sending the Abrams, citing concerns about how Ukraine would maintain the advanced tanks, which require extensive training and servicing. And officials said it could take years for them to actually reach any Ukrainian battlefields. But Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has now come around to the view that committing to sending American tanks is necessary to spur Germany to follow with its coveted Leopard 2 tanks.

The implication is that the U.S. tanks are difficult and expensive-to-maintain rides that Ukraine can't effectively deploy, but sending them over provides Germany political cover to supply the more serviceable and effective Leopards.