President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine’s army has taken delivery of an initial batch of US-made Abrams tanks.
The Ukrainian president said on Monday he had received the news from the defense minister, who told him “Abrams are already in Ukraine and are preparing to reinforce our brigades.”
Zelensky did not elaborate on the quantity of the tanks.
President Joe Biden of the United States promised at the start of the year to supply Ukraine with 31 Abrams tanks. The tanks would be paired with 120-mm armor-piercing depleted uranium rounds. Washington had already informed the public of sending the armor-piercing munitions to Ukraine.
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons warned at the time there are dangerous health risks from ingesting or inhaling depleted uranium dust, including cancer and birth defects.
Russia also denounced the move, saying it was “an indicator of inhumanity.”
Depleted uranium is not considered nuclear weaponry, but it contains low levels of radiation.
The tanks are part of more than $43 billion in military assistance pledged by the Biden administration since Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine in February 2022.
Russia’s ambassador to the US had said previously that Biden’s decision to send the tanks to Ukraine amounted to “another blatant provocation” against Moscow. He said the tanks would be destroyed and warned the West it would come to regret the “delusion” that Ukraine could ever win the day.
Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, has also warned the Abrams would need to be deployed “in a very tailored way, for very specific, well-crafted operations,” or risk being destroyed.
If the tanks are simply sent to the front lines to try to punch through Russian defenses, Budanov said, “they will not live very long on the battlefield.”