Russia

Zelensky Admits Abrams Tanks Toothless on Battlefield, Seeks Scores of F-16s

An American Abrams M1 tank destroyed in the special military operation zone

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said during his remarks on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington that it is unlikely that the 31 US-supplied Abrams tanks made much of a difference on the battlefield in Ukraine. «I’m not sure that such a number of tanks can change the situation in the battle,» Zelensky said on Tuesday. In May, CNN reported, citing Ukrainian crews maintaining the M1 Abrams tanks supplied by the United States, that there were numerous issues with using the armored vehicles on the battlefield. The crews said that the $10 million vehicles did not have sufficient armor against modern weapons such as drones, thus failing to adequately protect personnel against attacks. One member said the tanks had become Russian forces’ «number one target.» They also reportedly said that the tanks appeared to have technical issues; for example, condensation affected electronic components. They noted that the tanks were not suitable for Ukraine’s situation, given that air power and artillery, which Ukrainian forces lack, help clear the battlefield before tanks and troops advance. The Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly reported the destruction of Abrams tanks in the special operation zone. Ukraine will need at least 128 F-16 fighter jets provided by the West immediately, or else it will be unable to match up against Russia’s air force, Zelensky said.»So, till the moment, when we will have 128 jets, we will not compare with them [Russia] in the sky. Anyway, it will be difficult,» Zelenskyy said on Tuesday.As of May, Ukraine’s allies in the West have committed to providing some 85 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, but the timeline for some of those deliveries is unclear.In June, Politico reported, citing US and NATO officials, that Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium planned to deliver more than 60 US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine this summer, but Ukraine would not have a full squadron of trained pilots until the end of 2025. Only 20 Ukrainian F-16 pilots are reportedly expected to finish the training by the end of 2024, which is half of the staff needed to operate a squadron of 20 aircraft.Ukraine wants the United States to train more Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 fighter jets, but there is currently no room to accept more pilots into the training program, according to US officials.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last year that Russia would consider the delivery of nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine as a deliberate signaling action by NATO in the nuclear sphere.World’Training’ for Ukrainian F-16 Pilots ‘Pretty Meager’, Media Reports14 June, 07:37 GMTThe Kremlin has consistently warned against continued arms deliveries to Kiev since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, saying it would lead to further escalation of the conflict. In April 2022, Russia sent a diplomatic note to all NATO countries on the issue of arms supplies to Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned that any cargo containing weapons for Ukraine will become a legitimate target for Russian strikes.

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