Despite President Biden’s promise to send 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday, it could take months for the artillery to arrive, according to reports.
The New York Post reported that Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh confirmed that the U.S. does not have enough of M1 Abrams tanks in its stockpile to send over to Ukraine at this time.
“We just don’t have these tanks available in excess in our US stocks, which is why it is going to take months to transfer these M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine,” Singh told the Post.
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If the tanks were in the Pentagon’s possession, it would take less than a week to get the tanks boxed and shipped. But when using the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, program, it could take months or years because the government goes through procurement to identify and hire contractors to build the weapons.
Biden announced the weapons approval on Wednesday, just hours after German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz said Ukraine would also get Leopard 2 tanks from Berlin as Russia plans for a major offensive.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Defense Secretary joined the president Antony Blinkin, who described the tanks as the “most capable tanks in the world” which will enhance Ukraine’s ability on the battlefield.
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“This is about freedom, freedom for Ukraine, freedom everywhere,” Biden said.
The decision to send tanks came after weeks of stalled and frustrated negotiations with Germany, which senior defense officials described as the “product of good diplomatic conversations.”
Earlier this month, Germany suggested it would not agree to send its tanks to Ukraine unless the U.S. did as well, citing concerns over escalating the war.
While senior defense officials would not confirm if the decision was a stipulation of Berlin’s or motivation from Washington to get Germany to roll out the Leopard tanks, the move was championed as a show of long-term support for Ukraine.
The U.S. has already supplied thousands of combat vehicles, including 1,700 Humvees and pledged earlier this month to send another 500 armored vehicles of several types.
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The Abrams tanks will be procured through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and will not come directly from U.S. stockpiles.
It remains unclear how long it will take to get the Abrams tanks up and running in Ukraine and defense officials did not say where the trainings will take place, though it was confirmed that the trainings would be held outside of Ukraine.
Caitlin McFall of Fox News contributed to this report.