The first batch of US-made Abrams tanks arrived in Ukraine ahead of schedule, the New York Times reported on Monday citing American defense officials.

“The first American-made Abrams tanks have been delivered to Ukraine,” two US defense officials told the New York Times, adding that the tanks arrived “months ahead of initial estimates and in time to be used in Kyiv’s counter-offensive against Russian forces.”

The officials stated that additional shipments of M1 Abrams tanks are planned for the upcoming months. The tanks that arrived in Ukraine on Saturday mark the initial delivery out of the 31 promised by the Biden administration.

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The Pentagon had announced in January that 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks would be delivered to Ukraine, but officials had speculated it would take about a year to make that happen. In March, the US said it will instead send M1A1 Abrams tanks from refurbished hulls already in US inventory, and the delivery will be in the fall — faster than what was initially expected.

The newly arrived Abrams tanks will join Ukraine’s existing tank inventory, potentially enabling them to advance into and potentially regain control of areas in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions currently held by Russia. In these regions, conflicts have persisted for months with no significant advancements.

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov told American military blog “The Warzone” on Friday the Abrams tanks “should be used in a very tailored way for very specific, well-crafted operations because if they are used at the front line and just in a combined arms fight, they will not live very long on the battlefield.”

He added: “They need to be used in those breakthrough operations, but very well-prepared.”

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