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Germany bows to Polish pressure on tanks for Ukraine: report

23.01.2023 17:00
Germany has succumbed to Polish pressure to allow the transfer of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, a Polish website has reported, citing French media. 
The German-made Leopard 2 main battle tank.
The German-made Leopard 2 main battle tank.Boevaya mashina, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The report by the tvp.info website came after German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock gave an interview to France’s LCI TV network in which she said on Sunday that Berlin "would not stand in the way" of Poland sending German-made tanks to Ukraine.

Asked what would happen if Poland sent its Leopard 2 tanks without Germany's approval, Baerbock said, as quoted by the Reuters news agency: "For the moment the question has not been asked, but if we were asked we would not stand in the way."  

Germany’s top diplomat was speaking on the sidelines of a Franco-German summit in Paris, the Politico news service reported.

France's LCI said that Baerbock’s words signified that “Germany has yielded to pressure from Poland,” according to tvp.info.

Meanwhile, Guillaume Roquette, editor of Le Figaro Magazine, said that “the war in Ukraine has definitely shifted Europe’s centre of gravity to the east,” tvp.info reported. 

He added that Europe’s “former godfathers,” notably Germany and France, “have fallen somewhat behind” other countries in terms of defence policy and diplomacy, according to tvp.info.    

Tanks for Ukraine 

Poland, Finland and other countries have offered to provide German-made Leopard tanks to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion, officials have told reporters. 

However, they need approval from the German government to do so, news outlets have reported. 

During a meeting of Ukraine’s allies at Ramstein Air Base in Germany last Friday, Berlin avoided committing to the transfer of Leopards to Kyiv, according to officials. 

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday that if Germany did not authorise Leopard 2 tank supplies to Ukraine, Poland would create a coalition of allies without Germany to supply Leopards to Kyiv anyway, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

‘We will not watch Ukraine bleed to death’: Polish PM

“We will not passively watch Ukraine bleed to death,” Morawiecki told the PAP news agency.

He slammed Germany's reluctance to approve the deliveries of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, PAP reported. 

The Polish prime minister said: "Germany's attitude is unacceptable. It has been almost a year since the war began. Innocent people are dying every day.”

He added: "Russian bombs are causing destruction in Ukrainian cities. Civilian targets are being attacked, women and children are being murdered."

'We’ll transfer the tanks to Ukraine anyway': Polish PM

On Monday, Morawiecki was asked if Poland would apply to Germany for permission to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine. 

He said: “We’ll ask for such permission, but this is, in fact, of secondary importance.”

He added: “Even if we don’t eventually get this permission, we’ll transfer the tanks to Ukraine anyway, together with others, in a smaller coalition, if Germany does not join the coalition.”

The Polish prime minister also said recently: “We won’t let Russia capture Kyiv and then set fire to all of Europe.”

He argued that support for the Ukrainian army was “both politically and morally right” and said he hoped Germany "will realise it sooner rather than later.”

“Ukraine and Europe will win this war, with or without Germany,” Morawiecki said, as cited by tvp.info.  

Monday is day 334 of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 


Source: tvp.info, Reuters, politico.eu