After handing over the first US Abrams tanks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj expressed confidence that he would receive further long-desired military aid.

“We are also working on getting all the other military capabilities we need,” Zelensky said in his evening video address. These included F-16 fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft systems and long-range weapons. “In order to cover our entire national territory, we need more systems than we currently have,” said Zelensky.

Ukraine is hoping, among other things, for Taurus cruise missiles from Germany. So far, however, there has been no commitment from Berlin. In addition, it is important for his country to increasingly produce weapons and anti-aircraft defenses itself, said Zelensky.

Earlier in the day, the head of state announced that the first Abrams tanks had arrived in Ukraine. In total, the United States has announced the handover of 31 battle tanks to the country attacked by Russia. The tanks are a “significant reinforcement” for Ukraine, said Zelensky.

$43.9 billion for Ukraine

Since the start of the war, US military aid to Ukraine has amounted to $43.9 billion, according to government figures. Most recently, weapons and equipment worth 128 million dollars (around 120 million euros) were newly approved from US military stocks. ATACMS missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers, which Kiev had long requested, were not included.

Ukraine’s Western allies had long struggled to supply battle tanks. The US announcement finally came at the end of January in parallel with Germany’s promise of Leopard tanks.

Initially, the US government argued that it did not consider the provision of this main battle tank to make sense for various practical reasons. In the end, however, Washington surprisingly reversed course. Ukrainian soldiers were trained on the Abrams at the US military training area in Grafenwöhr, Bavaria.

Ukrainian offensive since June

Ukraine has been fending off a Russian war of aggression for 19 months. It is heavily dependent on Western financial and military aid. Last year, the Ukrainian military succeeded in stopping the Russian army in front of Kiev and later also in forcing the Russians to retreat in the northeastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv and the Black Sea region of Kherson.

A further Ukrainian offensive has been underway since June with the aim of liberating additional areas, especially in the south, and driving a wedge between the Russian occupation troops stationed there. So far, this offensive has been slow.

Western military observers attribute this to massive mining of the area by Russian troops. It is said that the Ukrainians have now broken through this first defensive wall at least in one place. The tanks are intended to be used to advance as quickly as possible after overcoming the minefields in order to conquer further terrain.