TechUkrainians withhold use of Abrams tanks, awaiting "the right moment"

Ukrainians withhold use of Abrams tanks, awaiting "the right moment"

Abrams Tanks, illustrative photo
Abrams Tanks, illustrative photo
Images source: © AP Photo
5:21 PM EST, November 24, 2023

Since September, there have been no reports of the Ukrainian army utilizing American Abrams tanks. The tanks are being kept in reserve, potentially for use in the spring of the upcoming year. This speculation is shared by, among others, Mark Cancian, a retired colonel of the United States Marine Corps. Let's revisit the specifications of these American tanks.

In a conversation with Business Insider, Cancian suggested that this tactic is the only prudent course of action. He highlighted the unfavorable weather conditions and numerous fortresses along the primary frontline. With miles of Russian trenches, extensive rows of anti-tank defenses—"dragon's teeth"—, and minefields, tanks may not play a pivotal role on the battlefield.

"Given that the front is stable, the Ukrainians are likely keeping them [Abrams tanks] in reserve," Cancian revealed.

The current rainy and muddy conditions have made the deployment of heavy military equipment impracticable. Similar difficulties are expected during the winter season, with the advent of frost and snow.

Previous arguments suggested that the Abrams tanks and substantial portions of other support from the West, arrived in Ukraine belatedly—the impact of these deliveries likely emerging next year. The United States decided to transfer 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, with the first batch arriving at the end of September.

The delivery schedules were expedited compared to the original plans. The decision was made to send the M1A1 model of the tanks, an older yet more plentiful version, rather than the M1A2 variant. According to specific experts and even the President of Ukraine, 31 tanks, despite being as high-quality as the Abrams, fall significantly short in number.

"Only three tanks per 62 miles, it's absurd," says German political scientist Sergej Sumlenny, referencing the fact that the current Russian defense line spans over 621 miles.

The M1A1 Abrams tank significantly surpasses the offensive capabilities and durability of older models of German Leopards, supplied to the front by other Western countries, and doesn't bear comparison with post-Soviet tanks. It has a 4.72-inch cannon, 0.50-inch and 0.3-inch machine guns. It is a weighty machine, approximately 63 short tons and nearly 33 feet long—the units received by Kyiv feature modified armor modules, replacing standard depleted uranium panels with tungsten inserts. The Americans implemented the change due to concerns that their sensitive technologies could fall into Russian hands.

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