The first US Abrams tanks arrive in Ukraine

US Abrams tanks

The first American Abrams tanks arrived in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced this Monday, pleased with this “good news” at a time when his army is trying to take advantage of the last weeks of good weather before the cold.

“Good news from Minister (of Defense, Rustem) Umerov: “The Abrams is already in Ukraine and are preparing to reinforce our brigades,” Zelensky said in a statement on social networks, without specifying how many armored vehicles arrived. He said he was “grateful to the allies for the promises kept.”

The delivery of these tanks was announced last week by US President Joe Biden during a visit to Zelensky’s White House in search of additional support in the midst of the Ukrainian counteroffensive to liberate the territories occupied by Russia.

“Next week, the first American Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine,” Biden said at the time. The United States had promised Ukraine 31 Abrams tanks in total, equipped with 120mm depleted uranium ammunition.

These munitions can pierce armor but are also controversial due to the toxic risks for the military and its population.

These first armored vehicles were supplied to Kyiv “months ahead” of what was planned, the American newspaper New York Times reported on Monday.

Two dead in Odessa

Taking advantage of the arrival of Western weapons, Ukraine began a major counteroffensive in the south and east in early June to repel Russian forces, who launched their invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The operation has been progressing slowly and has only allowed the recovery of a handful of locations, but in recent weeks it seems to have accelerated.

Ukrainian forces say they managed to reach the first Russian lines on the southern front and regain ground in the east.

This Monday, the Ukrainian authorities announced the death of two civilians in a “massive” Russian attack against Odessa, on the shores of the Black Sea, three days after Ukraine bombed the headquarters of the Russian fleet in that same sea, located in Sevastopol. in Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Moscow since 2014.

Two people were found dead in a grain warehouse in Odessa, according to a report announced on Telegram by the regional governor, Oleg Kiper, who had initially reported an injured civilian.

Combat drones and Oryx and Kalibr missiles were used in the attack, according to Ukraine, which says most were shot down.

The Russian Ministry of Defense, for its part, indicated that a massive “bombing” was carried out against centers where “foreign mercenaries” and others used for the formation of “sabotage groups” were housed.

Also in the south, two people in their 70s were killed in a Russian airstrike in Beryslav in the Kherson region in the morning, Governor Oleksander Prokudin announced.

Russian commander dead, according to Kyiv

In addition, Ukrainian special forces stated this Monday that they killed the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, in a bombing carried out this Friday against his headquarters in Sevastopol.

“Thirty-four officers, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, died” as a result of the attack, the special forces stated on Telegram.

AFP is not in a position to verify these claims. Russia almost never reports its casualties in Ukraine, even when it comes to senior officials.

Russia indicated on Friday that only one soldier was missing after the attack that considerably damaged the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet.

This attack demonstrates the difficulties of the Russian anti-aircraft defense in stopping regular bombings on this Ukrainian peninsula, annexed in 2014 by Russia and which is an important logistics center for Moscow’s troops.

The Russian Defense Ministry also indicated on Telegram on Monday that four Ukrainian drones were destroyed while flying over Crimea and the northwestern Black Sea.

Two other drones were also shot down in the Kursk region (southern), according to the same source.

In the neighboring region of Bryansk, Governor Alexander Bogomaz reported three downed Ukrainian drones, two of them in the Surazh district (west), without mentioning casualties or damage.