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Ukraine’s war effort was helped by the arrival of American tanks as Moscow refutes claim of fleet commander’s death.

The first American-made Abrams tanks were being deployed on Ukrainian soil, as Russia refutes Ukrainian forces’ claim to have dealt a significant blow to the leadership of Moscow’s naval fleet in the Black Sea.

ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the arrival of the tanks on the Telegram messaging application: “Good news from Minister (of Defense Rustem) Umerov. Abrams is already in Ukraine and they are preparing to reinforce our brigades.”

He did not specify the number of tanks delivered.

They are the first of 31 M1 Abrams tanks promised by the Biden administration and began arriving months ahead of initial estimates. They add to tanks already deployed by NATO partners, including German-made leopards and the British Challengers, which arrived last spring.

They are the latest Heavy weapons sent by the United States. As Ukraine continues to launch a tough counteroffensive to penetrate defenses into Russian-controlled territory in the south and east of the country.

An Australian Army M1A1 Abrams main battle tank fires a round at a target during a live-fire demonstration at Puckapunyal Military Base north of Melbourne on May 9, 2019.

William West/AFP via Getty Images

It is a fight that has been costly on both sides of the front line – not only in terms of equipment but also in staggering troop losses – without much significant territorial progress by Ukrainian forces.

Ukrainian special operations forces said Monday that a strike at the end of last week The attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the occupied Crimean Peninsula had killed the fleet commander. Officials claimed that Commander Viktor Sokolov was among 33 senior officers killed in the attack. At the Pentagon, a U.S. official said that while there was no definitive confirmation of Sokolov’s death, it appears the fleet commander had been killed.

But on Tuesday, Russia’s state-controlled media broadcast footage purportedly showing Sokolov attending a daily briefing with other senior defense officials. He appeared only briefly in the clip and it was not immediately clear when that image of Sokolov was taken. If he is still alive and healthy, it would be further proof that both Russia and Ukraine are trying to gain any advantage possible by spreading disinformation.

However, if the commander were to die, it would be a serious blow to the Russian war machine: not only the death of one of the country’s highest-ranking officers, but one of the most audacious attacks yet on territory long occupied by Russia. beyond the battlefields. of Ukraine itself.

As for the Abrams tanks, Washington had been reluctant to send them to Ukraine’s battlefields amid concerns that the move would increase tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And yet American officials confirmed to martin that the Biden administration promised Zelenskyy the delivery of long-range missiles topped with cluster munitions, known as ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems). They have a range of up to 190 miles and can be launched from the HIMARS mobile rocket launchers already used by the Ukrainian military.

The missiles will allow Ukraine to attack Russian supply lines and command posts well beyond the front lines, the kind of range the military has already proven capable of.

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