Ukraine Situation Report: M1 Abrams Training Tanks Arrive In Germany

The Pentagon on Monday said that 31 Abrams training tanks have arrived at the Grafenwoehr Training Center in Germany that will be used to teach Ukrainians how to operate the American tanks.

“I can confirm that the 31 M1 Abrams training tanks have arrived at Grafenwoehr, Germany in preparation for subsequent training of Ukrainian tank crews,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, said during a press briefing Monday afternoon. “Those crews are expected to arrive and begin training within the next couple of weeks. As we’ve discussed previously, this extensive training program for Ukrainian crews and maintainers is intended to prepare them for their critical roles ahead in effectively operating the M1 tank and defending Ukrainian people.”

When asked why the U.S. doesn’t just leave the tanks there for Ukraine to use in combat instead of refurbishing an additional 31, Ryder said that “these tanks are intended specifically for training and don’t necessarily have the capabilities that they would need to go into combat.”

The tanks that will provide to Ukraine “are going through the refurbishment process right now,” Ryder said. “They will be updated, upgraded and prepared for exportability to Ukraine. Because we’re doing this concurrently, we will be able to provide those tanks to them in the fall timeframe to get them into Ukraine before the end of the year.”

The Pentagon declined to provide us with more detail when we asked for specifics about the difference between the training tanks and the ones that will be given to Ukraine for combat.

U.S. Abrams tanks have highly sensitive armor, which includes depleted uranium. As such, they have never been exported before. The conversion process takes an extensive period of time to make them exportable. This, along with other factors, has limited just how fast the U.S. can actually provide combat-capable Abrams tanks to Ukraine. You can read more about this in our past reporting here. You can also read more about what the Abrams is expected to bring to the fight for Ukraine once it finally arrives in our deep dive here.

Before we head into the latest from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

Another day, another revelation about the ongoing feud between Wagner mercenary group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Kremlin. This time via claims surrounding the ongoing discovery of leaked documents.

The Washington Post on Monday reported that in “late January, with his mercenary forces dying by the thousands in a fight for the ruined city of Bakhmut, Wagner Group owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin made Ukraine an extraordinary offer.”

Prigozhin said that “if Ukraine’s commanders withdrew their soldiers from the area around Bakhmut, he would give Kyiv information on Russian troop positions, which Ukraine could use to attack them. Prigozhin conveyed the proposal to his contacts in Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, with whom he has maintained secret communications during the course of the war, according to previously unreported U.S. intelligence documents leaked on the group-chat platform Discord.”

Once again, this is what is being claimed at this time in the Washington Post’s report. There is an epic information war going on from all sides. While this would have been harder to believe months ago, the Wagner boss’s ongoing outlandish lambasting of those in power in Moscow over wartime decisions has made such an allegation more plausible.

More evidence is emerging that Luhansk City was indeed struck by newly donated Storm Shadow cruise missiles as we reported last week. Pictures have emerged on social media that purportedly show pieces of the long-range, air-launched cruise missiles recovered in Luhansk City.

During a recent visit to Italy, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered thanks for the SAMP/T air defense system provided by a combined Italian-French donation.

“It took several weeks to ready the SAMP/T unit and all its components, which Italy produces jointly with France,” the Italian Decode 39 news outlet reported. “And the delivery was conducted in secret, in line with Rome’s overall approach to supply equipment to Kyiv. Meanwhile, the Italian Armed forces trained 20 Ukrainian specialists in Sabaudia, near Rome, to operate the system.”

As a result, the Oryx OSINT tracking group has moved the system to its list of those that have been delivered instead of just promised.

More details have emerged of the kind of fighter pilot training being provided to Ukraine by the United Kingdom, which we now know is specifically geared toward helping those aviators convert onto the F-16. You can read more about that in our coverage here.

It’s one thing to train, but it is another thing to fly in combat. Especially 300 combat sorties, like Ukrainian Air Force Lt. Col. Rostyslav Lazarenko, an Su-25 Frogfoot pilot.

“If someone thinks that this is something to be proud of, then you are wrong,” he said, according to Ukraine’s ArmyInform publication. “Emotions are completely different… Every time you feel fear, every time before take-off you think whether you will turn around this time, or maybe this is the last flight.”

The video below shows some of the kinds of flying Ukrainian jets, like this Su-27 Flanker, have to engage in to survive.

Aside from pilot training, the U.K. government today also confirmed it was going to provide Ukraine with “hundreds of air defense missiles” (of an undisclosed type, but possibly AIM-120 AMRAAMs from its own stocks, for use in the NASAMS). Also being provided are “hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km [124 miles].” This might refer to new types of drones being developed in the United Kingdom specifically for Ukraine, as we have discussed before.

But it does not appear that the U.K. is also providing Ukraine with hundreds of long-range missiles as the BBC initially reported today in a story since updated.

According to the Kyiv Post, the BBC corrected the information, writing instead that Ukraine will receive air defense missiles from the U.K. Of course, that’s still welcome, as you can read about in our piece here.

The U.K.’s provision of long-range strike drones, Storm Shadow cruise missiles and potentially pilot training won’t change U.S. thinking on longer-range fires and F-16s, Ryder told reporters Monday.

“No, it doesn’t,” Ryder said when asked if London’s recent moves change Washington’s calculus on providing Ukraine with weapons like the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) short-range ballistic missile. “You know, as we’ve said all along, we’re going to continue to stay in active discussions with Ukraine, with our allies and our partners on what their most urgent security assistance needs are.”

On fighter jets, Ryder said, “again, I don’t have anything to announce today in regards to any type of fighter aircraft. Again, we’re going to stay in very close contact with Ukraine and with our allies and partners to look at both their near-term and longer-term security needs.”

In addition to his unannounced visit to the U.K., Zelensky also visited Germany. And in the video below, you can see his A350 aircraft being escorted by fighters from the Luftwaffe.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made his first public appearance in about a week, and, perhaps to highlight that it was not canned footage, he was seen talking about the Russian aircraft shot down over the weekend.

Lukashenko did not appear on Sunday at a ceremony in the capital, Minsk, triggering speculation that the veteran leader is seriously ill, according to NBC.

“The BelTA state news agency reported that Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko read a message from Lukashenko during an annual ceremony at which young people swear allegiance to the ex-Soviet state’s flag,” NBC reported. “The agency gave no reason for Lukashenko’s absence five days after he appeared unwell and skipped parts of commemorations in Moscow marking the Soviet Union’s World War Two victory over Germany.”

The incident Lukashenko referenced involved Russia losing two Mi-8 Hip helicopters, a Su-34 Fullback strike fighter, and a Su-35 Flanker-E, with no survivors. What makes all this especially troubling for the Russian Air Force, is that all these losses happened in its own country, in areas not too far from the border with Ukraine.

All four aircraft came down in Bryansk Oblast, well within Russian territory opposite northeast Ukraine’s Chernihiv Oblast. Video shows one of the Mi-8s breaking up after what looks as if a missile hit it near the town of Klintsy, about 50 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border. 

You can read more about that in our coverage here.

While Lukashenko is alive, hopes for a peaceful future for Russia may not be.

“Ian Garner, a cultural historian and Russia analyst from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., is touring the United Kingdom discussing his new book, Z Generation: Into the Heart of Russia’s Fascist Youth, and his conclusions about the prospects for a lasting peace with Russia are pessimistic, to say the least,” Canada’s CBC network reported.

“His gloomy message is that with or without Vladimir Putin as president, support for his regime’s toxic outlook is deeply pervasive, including among young people, who have typically been seen as the most ‘Western-friendly’ Russians.”

Putin sped up the process by which foreign nationals can become Russian citizens by fighting for the military. Instead of three years of service, Putin signed a bill into law that reduces that to just one year of service.

Sometimes trench warfare is frenetic and frenzied, sometimes not so much, as you can see in this video below of Ukrainians calmly firing from their trench.,

Artillery has played a big role in Ukraine ever since the Russians first invaded in 2014. An artillery strike by the Ukrainian 406th Artillery Brigade apparently destroyed one of Russia’s giant 2S4 “Tulip” 240mm self-propelled mortar.

And Ukrainian counter-battery fire destroyed two Russian 2S5 Giatsint-S 152mm self-propelled guns in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, according to the Ukraine Weapons Tracker OSINT group.

If you are into things blowing up, check out this video below apparently showing Ukrainian troops firing at a Russian Ural-4320 truck until it explodes in a ball of fire.

A Russian Bukhanka van did not fare well against a Ukrainian quadcopter from the 110th Mechanized Brigade. It dropped a couple of 40mm grenades on the van, turning it into a burning, smoking hulk.

Unmanned aerial and surface vehicles have gotten most of the attention in this conflict when it comes to drones, but both sides are also using uncrewed ground vehicles (UVGs) as well. You can see the Russians in the video below towing a Platforma-M UGV.

While we are unsure if this photo actually does depict AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles under the wing of a Ukrainian MiG-29 Fulcrum, this is still a pretty awesome photo.

And finally, we recently showed you a Russian soldier surrendering to Ukrainian forces via a drone. Here is the story behind that story.

That’s it for now. We’ll update this story when there’s more news to report about Ukraine.

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard's work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.