Top Republicans on Monday made a push to accelerate Washington’s proposed sale of 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks to NATO ally Poland, which has been pending since last summer, in light of the escalating crisis with Russia.
The ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, with Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., argue expediting the sale, “especially as Russia builds-up forces around Ukraine, would send an important message to both NATO and the Kremlin.”
Stacie Pettyjohn, director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security, said it’s unlikely the tank sale could be expedited in time to stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but providing Poland with the tanks makes sense strategically, to bolster NATO’s defenses in the north.
In a conflict, it’s unlikely Poland would deploy its heavy forces to Ukraine or Belarus, but improving Poland’s ability to defend itself could blunt a potential avenue of attack for Russia. And those maneuverable, protected forces would have a better chance of standing up to Russian artillery.
“If they’re thinking of defending their country and up through the Baltics, being able to maneuver and having heavy forces to interpose themselves between Russian ones, would slow [the Russian forces] down and then let NATO bring its air power in to begin to attrit them,” Pettyjohn said.
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