The United States, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic have partnered up to send 90 refurbished T-72B main battle tanks to Ukraine as part of the Biden administration’s latest $400 million weapons package.
The tanks, which have “advanced optics, communications, and armor packages,” will “further enhance Ukraine’s proficient armored warfare capabilities,” according to the Pentagon.
Ukraine has been asking for more tanks and other armored vehicles as the winter approaches.
“We’re fighting the war out of our pickup trucks,” a Ukrainian soldier told Radio Free Europe last month. “It’s going to be really tough for us.”
The Pentagon will pay for 45 of the refurbished T-72B tanks from the inventory of the Czech defense industry, while the Netherlands will provide funds for the other 45. The tanks will start arriving in Ukraine next month.
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The U.S. has so far declined to provide more modern tanks, such as the M-1 Abrams main battle tanks.
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters in September that the Pentagon recognizes in the long-term, Ukraine will “need to transition to NATO compatible models.”
“Tanks are absolutely on the table along with other areas,” the defense official said on Sept. 19.
“In terms of the immediate fight, the tanks that are available that could be provided very quickly with little to no training are Soviet-type tanks, but we’re certainly open to other options provided that the training, maintenance, and sustainment can be taken care of.”
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The latest $400 million weapons package also includes funding to refurbish HAWK air defense missiles, 1,100 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, and 40 armored riverine boats.
It adds to more than $18 billion in security assistance that the Biden administration has transferred to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.