The Biden administration is stuck in a standoff with Germany over whether to send tanks to Ukraine ahead of a key meeting of Western defense leaders in Germany on Friday.
In recent days, German officials have indicated they won’t send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, or allow any other country with the German-made tanks in their inventory to do so, unless the US also agrees to send its M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv — something the Pentagon has said for months it has no intention of doing given the logistical costs of maintaining them.
“They have us over a barrel,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN Thursday, adding that the Germans are demanding tanks for tanks, and not budging on considering any other offers the US has made to spur Berlin to send the Leopards.
The tank standoff comes amid a much larger debate between the US and its European allies over whether to send increasingly sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine, including longer-range missiles that would allow Ukraine to hit targets as far as 200 miles away.
The UK, Poland, Finland and the Baltic states have all been pushing for NATO members to provide heavier equipment to Kyiv amid what they believe is a key inflection point in the war. Both Ukraine and Russia appear to be gearing up for new offensives and there are signs that Moscow could be preparing an additional troop mobilization.
Last week, the British added pressure to their Western allies when they announced they would send 14 of their Challenger tanks to Ukraine. But Germany and the US were still opposed to the idea of sending their own tanks as of Wednesday.
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