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The Pentagon and State Department must speed up the sale and delivery of Abrams battle tanks to Poland and fulfill other weapons needs, a bipartisan group of senators is urging President Joe Biden in a letter.
The State Department in February notified Congress of an approved $6 billion sale of 250 modernized Abrams tanks, made by General Dynamics Corp., as well as related weapons and equipment. Even so, delivery of the tanks would take place in about a couple years, by 2025.
U.S. weapons sales to Poland, a key North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally on the eastern flank, have gained urgency after Russia invaded Ukraine. Poland shares borders with both countries and has been receiving many Ukrainian refugees as Russia seeks to control the country. A Russian takeover of Ukraine would vastly expand Poland’s border with Russia.
The lawmakers, led by Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) a war veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are also urging the Biden administration to “proactively” work with Poland on other weapon sales “to meet the rapidly evolving threat posed by the Russian Federation.”
Idaho Republican Sens. James Risch and Mike Crapo, as well as Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) also signed the letter to the president.
The senators have a strong interest in the Abrams tanks because of the roles their states play in operating and producing these tanks and training the Polish military.
The Illinois National Guard has trained with Polish military members through the State Partnership Program, while members of the Idaho National Guard have trained Polish ground forces on the operation of the Abrams tanks, the senators wrote.
“It is vital that we continue to invest in this partnership and act decisively to bolster the capabilities of Polish ground forces,” they said. “Dramatically strengthening Poland’s ground forces will also strengthen NATO’s collective defensive capabilities and serve as a powerful deterrent against the Russian Federation launching additional military incursions in Europe beyond Ukraine.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at email@example.com