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Poland at forefront of efforts to support Ukraine: deputy PM

26.01.2023 12:15
A deputy prime minister has said that Poland has been and will remain a key driving force behind international assistance to war-torn Ukraine.
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz BłaszczakPhoto: PAP/Marcin Obara

Mariusz Błaszczak made the declaration in an interview with public broadcaster Polish Radio on Thursday.

Błaszczak, who is also Poland’s defence minister, was asked about announcements a day earlier by Germany and the United States that they would send their main battle tanks to Ukraine to help it fight Russia.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden approved the supply of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, while Germany announced it would make 14 of its Leopard 2A6 tanks available to Ukraine, as well as allow partner countries to re-export further tanks, news outlets reported.

Błaszczak told public broadcaster Polish Radio on Thursday that he had spoken to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius. 

He said: "If Poland hadn’t put pressure on Germany, this decision [to send Western tanks to Ukraine] probably would not have been taken."

Tanks for Ukraine

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the goal was to quickly establish two battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine.

Poland, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain have already offered to provide Ukraine with some of their German-made Leopards, according to officials. 

Błaszczak said he and Germany's Pistorius would seek to persuade allies to create a coalition of countries supplying Leopard tanks to Ukraine. 

“We expect that this will happen as soon as possible,” he added.

‘Poland will continue to be a driving force behind support for Ukraine’ 

Błaszczak was asked to comment on statements by German officials that the transfer of Leopard tanks to Ukraine would take three months. 

He said: “Poland will continue to act dynamically.”

He added that Poland "has been and will continue to be a driving force behind support for Ukraine, while Germany has been putting a brake on such efforts."

"Perhaps yesterday they took their foot off the brake a little bit," Błaszczak told Polish Radio.

Błaszczak was also asked about news reports that Ukraine’s allies were considering supplying Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets. He said: “Ukraine needs weapons that will thwart the Russian offensive, deny Russia air superiority and neutralise its ability to shell Ukrainian territory.”

He added that Russian strikes were leading to casualties among Ukraine’s civilian population. 

Błaszczak also told Polish Radio that Poland would receive a first batch of 58 used Abrams tanks from the United States later this year, followed by the latest version of the combat vehicle next year, to bolster the country’s defences amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine. 

Thursday is day 337 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 


Source: IAR, PAP, tvp.info