The training extension request means it will be additional weeks before the M1s arrive in Ukraine and the rainy season is fast approaching.
Earlier hopes that U.S. M1 Abrams tanks would soon arrive on the battlefield in Ukraine have been tempered by news that Kyiv has requested an extension in training its troops until the full contingent of 31 refurbished Abrams tanks arrive in country.
Nearly 200 Ukrainian troops will continue honing their skills in operating and repairing the tanks for several more weeks at U.S. bases in Germany even after their main training exercises ended last month, VOA is reporting. The outlet cites U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command's spokesperson Col. Martin O'Donnell.
As we reported last week, the first of the Abrams appeared to be on track to go into combat starting around mid-September after the initial set of Ukrainian troops had completed the training. Quoting an unnamed Pentagon official and “another person familiar with the discussions,” Politico at the time reported that the first 10 of these tanks would arrive in Ukraine in mid-September. Meanwhile, as we also have reported in the past, the 31 Abrams tanks destined for Ukraine — all older M1A1 variants — have been undergoing refurbishment and preparation for delivery.
"At Ukraine's request, the military will maintain its handling and repair skills until the 31 tanks that the U.S. has pledged to convert and provide to Ukraine in the fall are ready," O'Donnell said. "These skills training is expected to take several weeks."