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First Abrams tanks sighted near Avdeevka – local official

Ukraine received 31 of the US-made vehicles several months ago, which have since been conspicuously absent from the battlefield

Moscow’s forces have for the first time spotted M1 Abrams main battle tanks on the Donbass front, a senior Russian official has said. A batch of the US-made heavy armor was delivered to Ukraine last year.

In an interview with TASS on Sunday, Igor Kimakovsky, who serves as an adviser to the head of Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said that the US-supplied vehicles had been sighted northwest of the city of Avdeevka which was recently captured by Russian troops.

The official did not provide further detail on the number of Abrams, their apparent combat readiness, or how Ukrainian commanders were deploying them. However, Kimakovsky also noted that Kiev’s troops were actively using drones near Avdeevka.

US President Joe Biden announced that Washington would provide Kiev with 31 M1 Abrams tanks – enough to equip one armored battalion – in late January 2023. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in late September that the first US armored units had arrived in Ukraine, with the delivery being complete by mid-October, according to US officials.

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FILE PHOTO: Transportation of a US-made Abrams M1 tank.
‘Not clear’ what Ukraine is doing with American tanks – Forbes

Since then, however, they have been notably absent from the battlefield, with some Western experts suggesting that Kiev might be holding them in reserve for a potential major offensive, or may have decided that the Abrams would not be effective in winter conditions against fortified Russian defenses.

Zelensky himself tried to play down expectations for the Abrams. “I hope… there will be more deliveries, but I cannot really say that they [tanks] are playing a major role on the battlefield. They are too few,” he said in November.

The first reports of the Abrams deployment came after Russia captured the strategic Donbass city of Avdeevka, with Moscow claiming that the Ukrainian retreat from the area had turned into a disorganized rout with heavy losses.

Moscow has consistently denounced Western arms shipments to Ukraine, arguing that they will only prolong the conflict. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has also warned that Abrams tanks sent to Ukraine “will burn” like the rest of its Western-supplied equipment.

February 25, 2024 at 05:36PM
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