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Goal is to get Ukraine the capabilities they need to be successful on the battlefield against Russia: John Kirby

The U.S. decision came after Germany agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine.

January 26, 2023 11:59 am | Updated 01:48 pm IST - Washington

John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, at the daily press briefing, at the White House, in Washington, U.S., on January 25, 2023.

John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, at the daily press briefing, at the White House, in Washington, U.S., on January 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Joe Biden administration's goal is to get Ukraine the requisite capabilities needed to be successful on the battlefield against the Russian troops, the White House has said, after Washington and Berlin announced that they will send advanced battle tanks to Kyiv.

President Joe Biden has announced that the U. S. will send 31 state-of-the-art Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine to help its troops push back Russian forces that remain entrenched in the country's east for almost a year since Moscow's invasion. The U.S. decision came after Germany agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine.

Also read | Lessons from Russia’s Ukraine war

“It is our goal — and a goal shared by our allies and partners that we get to Ukraine the capabilities they need to be successful on the battlefield today but, just as critically, in the future, going forward this year,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters during his daily news conference on January 26.

Mr. Kirby said the Germans would help organise another two battalions, the British have agreed to send their Challenger tanks, while the French will also be contributing with armoured vehicles.

“This very much just follows right along with the kinds of discussions we've been having with the Ukrainians for months about making sure that they can fight on the terrain that they're in and that they can prepare for operations going forward this year,” Mr. Kirby said.

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Both Leopard 2 and Abrams are state-of-the-art tanks and considered more superior than Soviet-era tanks fielded by the Russian forces.

Earlier, Mr. Biden said the delivery of these tanks will "take time" that Washington will use to ensure "Ukrainians are fully prepared to integrate these tanks into their defences.” The Hill reported that Ukraine would also push for F-16 fighter jets from the U.S.

Mr. Kirby acknowledged that while the fighting between the Russian and Ukrainian forces has slowed down during the winter, he expects the tempo to pick up once the weather improves. “We have to be ready for that. I know the Ukrainians feel they have to be ready for that,” he said.

“So, it's about helping Ukraine defend itself but also, helping Ukraine be able to go on the offensive when the weather conditions and when the operational conditions are permissive,” Mr. Kirby added.

Also read |Poland to ask Germany for go-ahead to send tanks to Ukraine

At a separate news conference, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. wants to equip Ukraine not only with deterrent capabilities, but also defensive capabilities if Russia once again makes a disastrous decision to cross international borders to attack Ukraine in the future. Responding to a question, Mr. Price said Moscow has already inflicted a strategic failure on itself.

“We've seen this strategic failure since the earliest days of this war, when President Vladimir Putin sent his forces into Ukraine under the erroneous assumption that Kyiv would fall, that the country would be his, that more so than the territorial conquest that he'd be in a position to erase Ukraine, erase its identity, erase its people, subsume the country,” he added.

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