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US Aims to Transfer Soviet-Made Tanks to Ukraine After Failing to Provide Fighter Jets of Same Age

© REUTERS / Handout .A view of a tank with the Ukrainian flag painted on it in Klymentove, Ukraine, in this still image taken from drone video released by the Ukrainian Armed Forces March 20, 2022.
A view of a tank with the Ukrainian flag painted on it in Klymentove, Ukraine, in this still image taken from drone video released by the Ukrainian Armed Forces March 20, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.04.2022
Last month, the US attempted to transfer several Polish Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, in addition to other equipment from its own warehouses inherited after the collapse of the USSR. However, Biden reportedly vetoed the handover of the aircraft after disputes arose with NATO allies out of fears of an escalation of the conflict.
The Biden administration will work with partners to transfer Soviet-made tanks to boost the Ukrainian military in the country's eastern Donbass region, The New York Times reported on Friday.
According to the outlet's source within the administration, the decision to act as an intermediary to assist in the transfer of Soviet-made tanks that Ukrainian personnel are familiar with, so as not to waste time on their retraining, is in response to another request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
So far, the US has not expressed the intention to assist in the movement of tanks specifically to Ukraine.
The transfers are reportedly set to begin soon; however, it is still unclear how many tanks would be transported or from which nations they would originate. According to the official, the tanks will allow Ukraine to launch long-range artillery strikes on Russian positions in the area.
The arrival of the tanks could potentially escalate the situation on the eastern front, which is described by Russian air dominance and relocation of its troops from other directions to the region.
Earlier this week, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it will refocus the efforts on eastern Ukraine, where the troops of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics have been fighting the Ukrainian army and neo-Nazi militias since 2014.
The decision to advance with the transfer of the tanks comes as on Sunday, Zelensky called on NATO to send tanks and aircraft to Ukraine, in addition to the anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons that have become a hallmark of Western armament supplies to Ukraine.
Zelensky, apparently frustrated by the slow pace of weapons supplies, specifically requested tanks in statements made a day after US President Joe Biden met with senior Ukrainian officials during his visit to Poland.
Over the course of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the White House has focused on smaller, more readily transportable weapons, always describing them as "defensive." However, the term "defensive" has become more ambiguous in recent weeks.
Anti-aircraft missile system Osa at the exhibition of military equipment of factories in Udmurtia in Izhevsk.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.03.2022
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According to a March report from the Wall Street Journal, Biden opposed a proposal to send Polish Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine in order to avoid inciting Russia into a direct confrontation with NATO. The US has been providing Ukraine with other weaponry and assistance, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.
Prior to that decision, Biden publicly stated that the US would protect NATO member states' territory against a possible Russian attack, but that deploying NATO member states' fighter jets to Ukraine may lead to World War III. He also said the American troops would not join the conflict in Ukraine.
According to the Russian MoD, since the launch of the special military operation in Ukraine, the country's military, along with the Donbass republics, has destroyed more than 1,800 tanks and other armored fighting vehicles of the Ukrainian army, as well as about the same number of special military vehicles.
A number of Ukrainian tanks were also captured by Russian forces.
Moscow issued a statement two weeks into the special military operation, asserting that Ukrainian troops were utilizing terrorist tactics such as hiding behind civilians, using them as human shields and putting armed vehicles in residential areas.
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