Biden approves sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

In a major increase of U.S. support to Ukraine, President Joe Biden has signed off on sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the war-torn country as concerns mount over a new Russian

offensive this spring. "Secretary [Lloyd] Austin has recommended this step because it will enhance the Ukraine's capacity to defend its territory and achieve its

strategic objectives," Biden said on Wednesday in remarks from the White House's Roosevelt Room, flanked by Austin, the defense secretary, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly appealed for more tanks, with a harsh winter and the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion approaching.

The political maneuvering had muddled Ukraine's plea while Russia is thought to be preparing for a spring offensive. For weeks, Pentagon officials said publicly that

the Abrams tanks weren't suited for the fight in Ukraine, including because of the fuel they need to operate. But officials also did not rule out the vehicles as a potential

long-term possibility. The U.S. transfer of Abrams tanks seemingly spurred Germany to authorize the transfer of German-made Leopard 2s to Ukraine -- and allow the 12 NATO

countries that have Leopard 2s to send them to Ukraine, with the most vocal of those countries being Poland. "We remain united and determined as ever in our conviction

and our cause," Biden said at the White House. "These tanks are further evidence of our enduring, unflagging commitment to Ukraine and our confidence in the skill of the Ukrainian

forces. As I told President Zelenskyy when he was here ... in December: 'We're with you for as long as it takes, Mr. President.'"