During a Ukraine Defence Liaison Group meeting, US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis announced that the United States would send 31 M1 “Abrams” main battle tanks to Ukraine. With these new Abrams tanks, Ukraine plans to push south into the Russian-controlled city of Tokmak, then Melitopol, and finally the Sea of Azov. This hope seems unrealistic given that the Chief Intelligence Director of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry, Kyrylo Budanov, has revealed that the US-supplied Abrams tanks can only be used for limited missions due to safety issues.
In an interview with the War Zone portal, he said they should only be used for specific, well-planned operations, as they will not last long in frontline general combat. They must be used for advances, but these operations must be meticulously planned.
According to Budanov, the number of armoured vehicles used on the battlefield has decreased substantially on virtually all significant fronts. This is owing to the abundance of First Person View (FPV) kamikaze drones, capable of wreaking havoc on expensive equipment, and the prevalence of anti-tank mined fields, which pose a hazard to tracked vehicles.
According to Budanov, armoured vehicles are used for evacuating civilians and supplying infantry units with rapid transportation. However, they do not participate in the conflicts that are occurring.
He stated that if they deploy a battalion tank formation onto the battlefield, it will be destroyed if it comes within artillery range.
M1A1 Abrams not suited for this war
While the Abrams tanks are a welcome addition to the Ukrainian military, 31 may not significantly affect the course of the conflict. When the rainy season begins in Zaporizhzhya, it makes little sense to use these tanks, as they could become mired in the muck. Using Abrams, Challenger, and Leopard tanks in a location like Zaporizhzhia would present logistical difficulties.
The Russian military possesses many anti-tank munitions and mines, which have already damaged Ukrainian armoured vehicles supplied by the West, such as Leopard tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. Lessons have been learned on the Ukrainian battlefield, as the United States provides Ukraine with significantly less capable tanks than the German Leopard 2 and British Challenger 2 tanks.
The M1 Abrams is the US Army’s primary battle tank, but its efficacy and combat effectiveness have been disputed. While it has impressive weaponry and manoeuvrability, its protection and dependability have been criticised. In addition, the M1 Abrams’ size may make it inappropriate for the complex battlefield environment in Ukraine.
The provision of M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine seems odd when viewed through US motives. On the one hand, these tanks may not be suitable for Ukraine’s battlefield environment, and on the other hand, the US has retired this tank, which could pose potential security threats if provided to Ukraine. It appears that the US may be providing substandard equipment, which raises the issue of whether this military aid is motivated by genuine strategic considerations or is merely a response to domestic public pressure.
Additionally, the actual requirements of Ukraine must be considered. While the M1 Abrams is an advanced tank, it begs the issue of whether or not Ukraine requires such a tank. The battlefield environment in Ukraine is highly dynamic, requiring tanks with high mobility and adaptability. The M1 Abrams’s size may hinder its efficacy on Ukraine’s muddy terrain. Ukraine’s capacity to maintain and operate this sophisticated main battle tank with adequate technical and human resources is crucial.