Training for Ukrainians on US M1-A1 Abrams tanks has not yet started, but will begin “relatively soon,” a senior defense official told reporters Tuesday.
“Abrams training has not yet begun…We are still working on the equipment procurement so we haven't we have not yet begun the training, but I would expect that that will happen relatively soon,” the official said during a background briefing.
In total, the official said the US has trained more than 7,000 Ukrainian troops since the beginning of Russia’s invasion more than a year ago. The US plans to send 31 M1-A1 tanks to Ukraine — the size of a Ukrainian tank battalion.
The US agreed to send the tanks in January after a sudden reversal on its stated policy that Abrams were too complex and difficult to maintain for Ukrainian forces in the middle of a war.
The Biden administration relented under pressure from Germany, which said that it would only approve the transfer of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the US agreed to send Abrams tanks as well.
But the US cautioned that delivering tanks to Ukraine would take time. “We just don’t have these tanks available in excess in our US stocks,” said Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh shortly after the US announcement.