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Poland to renew offer of Leopard tanks for Ukraine in Germany on Friday: defence minister

19.01.2023 19:30
The Polish defence minister has said he will reiterate his country's offer to provide a company of Leopard tanks to Ukraine when Kyiv’s allies meet at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday. 
Mariusz Błaszczak.
Mariusz Błaszczak.Twitter/Polish Ministry of Defence

Mariusz Błaszczak made the declaration during a video conference with defence and military leaders from 10 other European countries on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The defence minister, who is also a deputy prime minister, told reporters afterwards: “Our job is to support Ukraine and convince our allies that such support makes sense. Tomorrow, in Ramstein, I will talk about the president's proposal regarding our readiness to hand over a company of Leopard 2 tanks by Poland, but in a broader coalition.”

On Friday, defence leaders from about 50 countries and NATO will gather at Germany's Ramstein Air Base to discuss how to provide more weaponry to Ukraine, officials have said.

Błaszczak told the media: “Ukraine should be supported by the provision of at least a brigade's worth of tanks. Hence the need for a coalition of countries.”

He added: “I hope that Germany, as the manufacturer of Leopard 2 tanks, with a maintenance capability, will change its mind and join the coalition.”

Błaszczak said, as quoted by his ministry: “We ought to support Ukraine - and Poland does it. Only real help matters. Otherwise, bad prospects await us. We cannot allow this to happen, as today's Russia is committing unspeakable war crimes.”

Błaszczak warned: “If Putin conquers Ukraine he will go further.”

He added: “That is why we are consistently strengthening the Polish armed forces.”

Thursday’s video conference was attended by the defence ministers of Britain, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, deputy defence ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and representatives from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Spain, officials told reporters. 

Poland offers Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Last week, Polish President Andrzej Duda promised that his country would send a company of German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.  

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters this week that "for Poland to be able to re-export Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Germany, as the producer, must give its consent."  

He added: “I can’t imagine Germany not giving its consent as soon as possible.”

A Polish presidential aide, Paweł Szrot, said last Friday that Denmark and Finland were also ready to transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition, the PAP news agency reported.

'We'll do the right thing': Polish PM

Poland's Morawiecki said at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week that consent from Germany for the transfer of Leopard tanks to Ukraine was “of secondary importance.”

The Polish prime minister added: “We will either obtain this consent quickly or we’ll do the right thing ourselves,” according to PAP.

Despite pressure from Western allies to permit German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to be delivered to Ukraine to strengthen Kyiv's defences against the Russian invasion, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far refused to approve the move, news outlets have reported. 

According to the PAP news agency, Scholz has suggested that Germany could send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the United States agreed to provide its own Abrams tanks. 

Meanwhile, Canada said on Wednesday it would donate 200 Senator armoured personnel carriers to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

Earlier this month, Britain pledged Challenger heavy tanks and the United States promised to send Bradley armoured fighting vehicles, while France offered its AMX-10 RC armoured fighting vehicles, according to news outlets.

Thursday is day 330 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 


Source: IAR, PAP, polska-zbrojna.pl