President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed Thursday to send powerfully armed infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, marking a new phrase of Western military support to repel Russia’s invasion.
Germany will also follow the United States in sending a state-of-the-art Patriot missile system to Ukraine to help ward off Russian air attacks.
The two leaders said that the United States will supply Bradleys — which usually come armed with 25 mm autocannon, a 7.62 mm machine-gun and anti-tank missiles — and Germany will send Marder armored vehicles, with each country offering training.
Biden and Scholz “reaffirmed their unwavering solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the face of Russia’s aggression,” a joint statement said.
Biden, speaking afterwards at a cabinet meeting, said that he agreed with Scholz to “increase the support for Ukraine.”
“Right now, the war in Ukraine is at a critical point,” Biden said. “We have to do everything we can to help the Ukrainians resist Russian aggression.”
The Pentagon and State Department said that the armored vehicles would be part of a larger package of military assistance announced over the coming day.
While the armored vehicles being sent are not tanks, the Bradleys provide “a level of firepower and armor that will bring advantages on the battlefield,” Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder said.
“It’s not a tank, but it’s a tank killer,” Ryder told reporters.
“We’re confident that it will aid them on the battlefield,” he said.
The United States could train Ukrainian forces on the Patriot system inside the United States.
“We’re exploring a variety of options to include potential training here in the US, overseas or a combination of both,” Ryder said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the transfer of armored vehicles was approved due to changing realities in the nearly one-year-old war, where the frontlines now include the eastern Donbas region after Russia failed to seize the capital Kyiv.
The United States is providing Ukrainians with “what they need to defend themselves, based in large part on where the battle is now,” Price told reporters.
“Now that we are seeing fronts emerge and intensify in various parts including in the Donbas,” Price said, “there are certain systems including these fighting vehicles that the Ukrainians have requested and that we deem are appropriate to provide.”
Germany’s shipment of a Patriot system follows a similar announcement by the United States two weeks ago during a visit to Washington by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukraine has long pushed for heavier weaponry, including tanks, that would allow it to go on the offensive. Western nations have been reluctant to send them, citing fears of becoming drawn into the war or provoking Russia.
But the Ukrainians have built momentum and Western nations have been expanding the weapons they send them.
The announcement comes a day after France promised to deliver its AMX-10 RC light tanks — a vehicle that is wheeled rather than tracked but which shares the much heavier cannon typical on a tank.
The French move put Scholz under fresh political pressure to do more to help Ukraine.