US-supplied Abrams tanks should only be used for specific breakthrough operations by Ukraine, or else they will be quickly destroyed by Russian forces, according to Kirill Budanov, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ukrainian military. Ukraine is eagerly awaiting the arrival of 31 Abrams M1 main battle tanks promised by Washington in January, as President Joe Biden assured Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky during their White House meeting. However, Budanov cautioned that if these American tanks are deployed on the front line and engaged in a combined arms fight, they will not survive long on the battlefield against Russia. Instead, he recommends that Kiev strategically deploys the Abrams tanks in very specific and well-crafted breakthrough operations.
Budanov explained that the extensive use of artillery and mines by both Russian and Ukrainian forces has significantly minimized the possibility of using armored equipment in most areas. Thus, to effectively benefit from the tanks, he emphasized the need for precision and caution in their deployment.
The interview also touched upon the absence of long-range ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles in the latest military aid package from the US. Budanov noted that Ukraine specifically requested these missiles from Washington to target Russian airfields, command posts, and ammunition depots in what he referred to as occupied areas of Ukraine, including Crimea. However, it remains unclear if Ukraine will eventually receive the ATACMS missiles, as no official announcement has been made by the US. Budanov acknowledged that there are still various possible outcomes regarding this situation.
Contrary to reports that the US would provide Ukraine with a small number of ATACMS missiles, Budanov asserted that even if 100 missiles were supplied, it would not significantly alter the situation for Kiev.
Russia has consistently warned that Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine will only prolong the conflict and will not hinder Moscow’s military objectives. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the US for sending weapons, ammunition, intelligence, and satellite data to Ukraine, arguing that they are essentially waging war against Russia.
It is important to note that strategic considerations and the mounting tensions between Ukraine and Russia underpin Budanov’s statements. The focus on specific, well-crafted operations highlights the need for careful planning and the utilization of the Abrams tanks’ capabilities in a controlled manner. Moreover, Budanov’s discussion of the ATACMS missiles sheds light on Ukraine’s desire to target critical Russian infrastructure in areas it considers occupied. Overall, the comments reflect the complexities and dynamics of the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, as well as the role of external military support in shaping the balance of power.