Poland is asking Germany for formal permission to supply Ukraine with Leopard main battle tanks

Berlin– Poland will ask the federal government for permission to deliver German-made Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday, seemingly urging his country closer to fulfilling a long-held wish of Ukraine’s political and military leaders. As a manufacturing nation, Germany must give its consent to the export of Leopard tanks to third countries.

Ukrainian leaders, from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the commanders of CBS News interviewed in the icy trenches along the front line in Russia’s war against the countryhave been making it clear for weeks that they cannot fend off Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine without additional heavy weapons – and battle tanks along with them more advanced air defense missile systemshave long been at the top of the wish list.

Russia-Ukraine War
A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event for the media of the German Bundeswehr in Muenster near Hanover, Germany, 28 September 2011.

Michael Sohn/AP

At a European Union meeting on Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock dodged whether Germany would quickly agree to a formal request from Poland or other nations to supply leopards to Ukraine. But she explained why she felt a decision by her own government was needed.

“The whole country [Ukraine] is under attack from the Russian regime, and it is clear that 11 months after Russia’s brutal war of aggression began, Putin has not backed down from his murderous plan to destroy Ukraine,” Baerbock said. “That is why it is so important that we as an international community do everything to defend Ukraine, so that Ukraine wins – wins, to live in peace and freedom again, because if it loses this war, there will be no Ukraine.”

A day earlier, Baerbock said on French television that Germany would not block the export of Leopard tanks to Ukraine from third countries.

“At the moment the question hasn’t been asked, but if we were asked, we wouldn’t get in the way,” she said after being asked what would theoretically happen if Poland decides to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine .

Defense minister urges allies to increase aid to Ukraine


Baerbock’s comments easily brought her before German government officials, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and French President Emmanuel Macron, both of whom made no firm commitments last week or over the weekend on whether Germany or France would supply main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Prime Minister Morawiecki had previously announced that Poland would eventually supply leopards to Ukraine, with or without Germany’s consent.

“We will not stand by and watch Ukraine bleed to death,” he told the PAP news agency. “Ukraine and Europe will win this war – with or without Germany.”

He clarified that if Germany hesitated further with the approval, Poland would form a “smaller coalition” with other unspecified countries to start supplying Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Hundreds of the modern German-made tanks are in service across Europe, and Morawiecki was likely alluding to other NATO member states like Finland, Latvia and Estonia, which are geographically much closer to Russian soil than Germany and have lobbied hard for more support for Ukraine.

Germany Western Balkans
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, welcomes Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in a file photo dated November 3, 2022 for the Western Balkans Conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany.

Michele Tantussi/AP

Latvian President Egils Levits echoed Poland’s demand, telling a German radio station that “everything necessary must be done to enable Ukraine to defend itself”.

He underscored the oft-repeated warning that delivering more heavy weapons to Ukraine should ensure not only the country’s defense capability but also the security of democratic Europe as a whole.

“If a state doesn’t participate, that’s of course a problem,” said Levits, adding that he couldn’t understand Scholz’s obvious reluctance.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, meanwhile, said on Sunday evening that a careful coordination process is underway with partner countries, but that no firm decision has yet been made in Berlin on when or if the transfer of leopards to Ukraine should be officially approved.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-news-russia-war-poland-germany-leopard-main-battle-tanks/ Poland is asking Germany for formal permission to supply Ukraine with Leopard main battle tanks

Rick Schindler

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