US to assist allies moving Soviet tanks to Ukraine: report

The U.S. will help allies move Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine in an effort to assist the country in protecting its Donbas region amid the Russian invasion, The New York Times reported Friday.

A U.S. official, who spoke to the outlet on the condition of anonymity, did not give provide a timeline on the tanks’ transfer, but noted that the movement will happen soon. The official also did not provide details on which countries the U.S. was assisting to move the military vehicles.

The transfer marks the first time in the conflict that the U.S. has assisted in directly moving tanks and comes in direct response to a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky has asked the West to transfer weapons for weeks, the source told the Times.

In the past, U.S. officials, including President Biden, have been reluctant to declare a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine for fear that it would be forced to defend the airspace and spark direct conflict with Russia.

The Defense Department told The Hill the agency has no comment at this time. 

“We have no details to share on this report, but we are committed to helping Ukraine to defend itself, strengthen the Ukrainians’ hands on the battlefield and at the negotiating table and bring an end to this war with military assistance, humanitarian aid, and economic support.” a State Department spokesperson said. 

The U.S. has indicated Russia is changing its focus on the eastern part of Ukraine in the Donbas region, where Moscow has been backing separatist fighting for years.

The Pentagon said Russia is sending 1,000 fighters to Donbas, and Zelensky has vowed to continue to defend the territory. 

The official told the Times the tanks will give Ukraine the ability to conduct long-range artillery strikes against Russia. 

Updated April 2, 2:10 p.m.

Tags Biden Donbas Joe Biden russian invasion of ukraine Soviet Union Volodymyr Zelensky zelensky

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