UPDATE: This piece has been updated to reflect new information from the Associated Press confirming the release of the Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine and announcement of the next assistance package.
President Joe Biden stated Wednesday the U.S. planned to send heavily armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine, but Kyiv begged the West for more tanks, according to media reports.
Ukraine has repeatedly asked the West to supply tanks for months but met with widespread resistance over the implications of delivering heavy weaponry, according to The Washington Post. However, Western leaders have slowly upgraded the capability of weapons deliveries, with France announcing the supply of AMX-10 RC reconnaissance tanks and the U.S. to send Bradley Fighting Vehicles in an upcoming tranche of military aid.
“Bradleys would provide a major increase in ground combat capability because it is, in effect, a light tank,” Mark Cancian, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former Pentagon official, told Bloomberg earlier in December after the outlet received a tip the U.S. might send the vehicles to Ukraine. (RELATED: Congress’ Massive Spending Bill Sets Aside Another $45 Billion For Ukraine)
The next Ukraine assistance package, which the White House is set to announce Friday, will total $3 billion and include several dozen Bradleys, The Associated Press reported Thursday, citing U.S. officials.
The delivery would be the first armored vehicle the U.S. has provided, although Biden previously approved paying for the Czech Republic to refurbish 45 ex-Soviet tanks to transfer to Ukraine.
“This is something that sends a clear signal to all our partners — there is no rational reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with western tanks,” Zelenskyy said Wednesday, according to Reuters.
French President Emanuel Macron promised to deliver the “first” Western tanks to Ukraine in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Wednesday, France24 reported, citing an aide to Macron.
“It is the first time that Western-designed tanks are supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces,” the aide told the outlet. He did not provide a timeline or specify the number of AMX-10 RCs, a light, six-wheeled tank, would be provided.
Had a long and detailed conversation with President of France @EmmanuelMacron on the current situation. Thanked for the decision to transfer light tanks and Bastion APCs to Ukraine, as well as for intensifying work with partners in the same direction. 1/2
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 4, 2023
U.S. leaders have shown an increased willingness to provide higher-capability weapons to Ukraine in recent months; in December, the Biden administration provided an advanced Patriot air defense system for the first time.
The change comes as Russia launched multiple barrages of missile and drone attacks on Ukraine. It also comes as U.S. officials see Ukraine’s increased need for armor amid grueling ground battles on the front line that stretches hundreds of miles across Ukraine’s eastern border, the Post reported.
Western officials have resisted sending heavy weaponry, such as tanks, over concerns regarding the logistics of training Ukrainian troops on complicated Western equipment and provoking Russia, according to the Post.
“There will be continued fighting along that line … for the foreseeable future,” a senior administration official, citing a government assessment, told the Post.
The White House and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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