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Poland training Ukrainians on Leopard tanks: deputy PM

03.02.2023 23:30
A Polish deputy prime minister has said that his country is already training Ukrainian soldiers on the German-made Leopard tanks that Kyiv expects to receive from Western allies to fight Russia's invasion.
Polands Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak (left) and Ukraines Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov (right) meet in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Friday, February 3, 2023.
Poland's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak (left) and Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov (right) meet in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Friday, February 3, 2023. Twitter/Polish Ministry of Defence

Mariusz Błaszczak made the declaration in Kyiv on Friday, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

Błaszczak, who is also Poland’s defence minister, met for talks with Ukraine’s defence chief Oleksii Reznikov, according to officials. 

Błaszczak and Reznikov also held a video call with defence leaders from allied countries that had pledged to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, reporters were told.  

At a joint news conference with Reznikov afterwards, Błaszczak said that Poland "has already started to train Ukrainian soldiers on Leopard tanks.” 

‘A matter of weeks’

He added that the Ukrainian troops “will complete their training on the Leopard tanks shortly.”

Asked how long the training programme would take, Błaszczak said: “It’s not a matter of days and it’s not a matter of months, either. It’s a matter of weeks.” 

“The training will be effective,” he added.

Błaszczak also told reporters that efforts led by Poland to build a coalition of countries ready to provide tanks to Ukraine was “gathering pace.”

He said: “There is no question that Ukraine is expecting another attack from Russia, so support in the form of heavy armoured equipment is of key importance for Ukraine’s defence against the Russian invasion.”

Błaszczak revealed that his NATO counterparts would make final declarations on the delivery of Leopard tanks "at the next meeting of Ukraine-supporting countries in the so-called Ramstein format," the PAP news agency reported.

The get-together is due to take place in Brussels, Belgium, in mid-February, according to officials.   

While in Kyiv, Błaszczak also met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who decorated him with "the Order for Meritorious Service of the First Degree," in recognition of his "commitment to helping Ukraine," Poland’s defence ministry said. 

Tanks for Ukraine

Last week, Germany and the United States, as well as Poland, among other Western countries, announced they would provide modern tanks to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion.

Germany agreed to allow partner countries to re-export German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. 

Berlin's approval came after weeks of diplomatic pressure on Germany, notably by Poland, to supply battle tanks to Ukraine and to allow partners to support Kyiv with some of their own German-made tanks. 

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview with Canadian television last week that Poland would send an additional 60 battle tanks to Ukraine, on top of the 14 German-made Leopards it had already promised.

Ukraine's ambassador to Paris, Vadym Omelchenko, said last Friday that Western countries had promised to send a total of 321 heavy tanks to Ukraine to help it battle Russia's invasion.

Friday, February 3, was day 345 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 


Source: PAP, 300polityka, milmag.pl