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Abrams tanks unable to yield resounding success for Kiev’s forces — expert

The delivery of 31 Abrams tanks to Kiev was announced, with 60 crews trained for them

MOSCOW, September 5. /TASS/. The delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine will not yield Ukrainian forces a resounding success on the battlefield, as these vehicles have major vulnerabilities, military expert Aleksey Leonkov, the editor of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, has told TASS.

Reuters reported on September 2, citing sources and documents, that the US administration would for the first time include armor-piercing shells with depleted uranium in the package of military support for Kiev. These shells are intended for the guns of Abrams tanks, expected to arrive in Ukraine in the coming weeks.

"It’s the export version of the Abrams tank - M1A1. Its protection is simpler. The fire control system and depleted uranium armor plates will be removed. It will be just an ordinary tank. Maybe they will attach something to it. Reactive armor, for instance. The question remains open. In any case, such tanks were noticed during the Iraqi conflicts. Poking a hole in them was no problem. <...> Therefore, I would not expect any resounding success [for the Ukrainian army] with the appearance of the Abrams on the battlefield. Yes, of course, they may even inflict some damage, but still [the Russian military] will be able to deal with these tanks," Leonkov said.

He recalled that the delivery of 31 tanks to Kiev was announced, with 60 crews trained for them. The first batch is 10 vehicles.

"It is clear that to fight our armored vehicles they need serious armor-piercing shells. The depleted uranium ones, according to US analysts, will be able to challenge our tanks. But everyone understands that it’s the crew’s training that really counts. We have very experienced crews. Of course, it will take time to spot the Abrams' vulnerabilities. For example, the very same Leopards-2 had been considered a better tank than the Abrams," he added.

Leonkov believes that the US is taking this step due to certain rifts with its European allies.

"The US promised that instead of the European weapons delivered to Ukraine, weapons of American manufacture would follow. But this is not the case. The Europeans are now resisting US pressures over the supply these weapons in every possible way. They say that first of all the Americans have not provided the Abrams tanks themselves," the expert said.

Matthew Ho, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and former director of the Afghanistan Study Group, told the YouTube channel Judging Freedom on August 17 that the United States was not supplying Ukraine with new weapons for fear Russia and China might seize them and lay hands on classified US technologies. He stressed that the United States, in particular, had long refused to supply Kiev with Abrams tanks because "the knowhow of making Abrams armor is a tightly guarded secret." He emphasized that the United States eventually decided to send to Ukraine "an old model [of Abrams] tanks, M1A1 that had appeared before the Gulf War."

Plans for supplies of shells

On March 20, the British authorities were reported to have made a decision to send to Ukraine shells containing depleted uranium and having increased effectiveness in destroying armored vehicles. On 27 March, Declassified UK, an investigative journalism portal, reported that British instructors had trained Ukrainian tank crews to use armor-piercing depleted uranium shells. Toxic and radioactive uranium dust, which is produced when such shells explode, is a health hazard. However, no large-scale studies have been conducted on the health of people living in areas contaminated with depleted uranium.

On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the plans for supplying depleted uranium shells show that the West intends to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian in reality. He warned that Moscow would be forced to react to such steps. Russia has hundreds of thousands of such munitions, but has not used them so far.