Donated Tanks Headed to Ukraine
Kyiv will get 90 T-72 tanks, donated by the Czech Republic and upgraded with U.S. and Dutch funds.
The United States is helping to pay for refurbished tanks for Ukraine and sending more anti-aircraft systems and electrical-power gear, Pentagon and White House officials said Friday. The move comes as Russia continues to target Ukrainian infrastructure while pulling back from key areas.
On Friday, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh announced another $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine. The package includes 45 T-72B tanks donated by the Czech Republic and refurbished with U.S. funds to have advanced optics, communications, and armor. The Netherlands will also pay for the refurbishment of 45 Czech T-72B tanks, bringing the total number of tanks headed to Ukraine to 90.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, “I am grateful to the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the U.S. for their joint decision to provide 90 T-72 tanks to Ukraine. First 26 repaired and modernized tanks will arrive within the next month. Thank you, friends, for your unwavering solidarity with Ukraine.”
The Russian T-72 was chosen over more modern tanks—such as the M-1 Abrams—as the Ukranians already have some familiarity with the Russian system, Singh said. “Introducing a new main battle tank is extremely costly…and it would be a huge undertaking for the Ukrainian forces. So we continue to consult with our allies and partners to assess our ability on what we can provide in terms of Western armor platforms. But these tanks, we believe, will make a difference on the battlefield,” she said.
The delivery of battle tanks to Ukraine marks an escalation in the types of equipment allies are providing for the next phase of the war. Germany, for instance, has been reluctant to send battle tanks to Ukraine despite pressure from allies, but did send 30 Flakpanzer Gepard anti-aircraft tanks—which are not as capable as larger battle tanks—in August.
Additional items from today’s Pentagon announcement of military aid to Ukraine include:
- Funding to refurbish HAWK air defense missiles.
- 1,100 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones.
- 40 Armored Riverine Boats.
- Funding to fix 250 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles.
- Tactical secure communications and surveillance systems.
- Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.
“Our provision of weapons and capabilities to Ukraine has evolved since the very beginning of the war back in February, because the needs on the battlefield have evolved,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters Friday. Right now there's a heavy focus appropriately on air defense, and so you will see that in that…package that the Pentagon announced there's funding to refurbish some HAWK interceptor missiles.”
Kirby was also asked about Ukraine's need for generators and repair parts for portions of its infrastructure that have been badly damaged by Russian drone strikes. “We are looking to try to see what we can do in the short term to help Ukraine repair the damage done…particularly to their electrical infrastructure, the grid itself, and that's by looking with allies and partners in the region,” he said.
In Kyiv this week, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met with representatives of the UN and USAID to press the need for more electrical equipment and backup power.
A USAID spokesperson told Defense One on Friday that USAID has already begun delivering equipment to Ukraine.
“In addition to the 700 generators we have already delivered in September, USAID delivered heating pipes and valves worth $1.3 million to Kyivteploenergo, Kyiv’s main heating system operator, to restore heating services to more than 22,000 people who had lost access to heat and hot water due to the Russian Federation’s destructruction of civilian infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson highlighted how the agency has sent protective equipment and drones to Ukraine to help with safer, speedier repairs on targeted infrastructure.
“USAID has already delivered boiler houses and other heating equipment to the city of Chernihiv and equipment to repair electricity substations in Sumy and Kharkiv. USAID has additional equipment scheduled for delivery this week, and much more in the weeks to come,” they said.