How Biden Reluctantly Agreed to Send Tanks to Ukraine
The decision unlocked a flow of heavy arms from Europe and inchedthe United States and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia.
WASHINGTON President Bidens announcement Wednesday that he would send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine came after weeks of tense back-channel negotiations with the chancellor of Germany and other European leaders, who insisted that the only way to unlock a flow of heavy European arms was for the United States to send tanks of its own.
His decision, however reluctant, now paves the way for German-made Leopard 2 tanks to be delivered to Ukraine in two or three months, provided by several European nations. While it is unclear whether it will make a decisive difference in the spring offensive that President Volodymyr Zelensky is now planning to take back territory seized by Russia, it is the latest in a series of gradual escalations that has inched the United States and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia.
In interviews, European and American officials acknowledged that three months ago, it would have been inconceivable that Mr. Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and leaders of other European nations would have contributed such heavy arms. But over time, they argued, the battlefield has changed and they believed the threat that President Vladimir V. Putin would reach for a tactical nuclear weapon to eviscerate Ukrainian forces has diminished.
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