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Poland steps up pressure to send German-made tanks to Ukraine | Ukraine

Poland has reiterated that it is ready to send tanks to Ukraine without Germany’s consent, as pressure mounts on Berlin to deliver the heavy weapons that Kiev is seeking.

Poland’s prime minister said his government would seek permission from Berlin to send its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but described the agreement as “of secondary importance”.

Mateusz Morawiecki said: “Even if we don’t get this approval… we would still transfer our tanks along with the others to Ukraine.” He added that “the condition for us at this moment is to create at least a small coalition of countries.”

Berlin is under intense pressure to release military equipment after failing to reach a decision at a hotly-anticipated international defense summit at the US Ramstein military base in southwest Germany on Friday.

German Foreign Minister Analene Berbock’s comment on Sunday that her country would not “stand in the way” of Poland sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine caused some confusion in Berlin. For now, it remains unclear whether her remarks indicate a change in the government’s stance or just Zelena’s attempt to correct Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s flawed communication strategy.

Berbokova did not repeat her comment when pressed on Monday morning. “It is important that we as an international community do everything to defend Ukraine, so that Ukraine wins.” Because if he loses, Ukraine will cease to exist,” she told reporters at a meeting of the EU Council for Foreign Affairs in Brussels.

Berbock’s party colleague Robert Habeck, the German minister for economic affairs, already signaled 10 days ago that his ministry would not block the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks from other European countries to Ukraine. “There is a difference between making a decision of your own free will and interfering with the decision of others,” Habeck said at the time.

While the re-export of German-made tanks must be approved by the economy ministry, Habek’s right to make such decisions effectively shifted the decision-making process to Scholz’s office.

It is hard to imagine that Scholz would actually block Poland’s formal request to supply Kiev with Leopard 2 tanks from its reserves, which was explicitly stated on Monday, not least because it would further the chancellor’s line that the allies’ position on such matters is more unified than they made it sound. media reports.

On Sunday night, new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius dismissed reports of an open disagreement between Washington and Berlin over battle tanks. “Germany was not isolated,” Pistorius said of last Friday’s meeting at Ramstein Air Base.

Poland announced that it is ready to send 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine. In earlier comments, Morawiecki described Germany’s position as unacceptable. “I try to measure my words, but I will say it bluntly: Ukraine and Europe will win this war – with or without Germany,” he said.

EU foreign ministers will discuss the issue at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, but no immediate progress is expected.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said his country could supply Ukraine with some Leopard tanks and spare parts, and/or train soldiers to drive and service the tanks, but suggested that decision rested with Germany. “We are still in the process of what kind of package will be formed.” “We hope that this is a position where countries like Germany could participate,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s staunchest allies in the Baltic states have made it clear they want Germany to act quickly. “Let me be clear that Germany is the engine of Europe and creates a special responsibility,” said Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu. He said Estonia spends 1% of national income on military aid to Ukraine and called on others to do the same. “We must give the Ukrainian people a shield, but also a sword to liberate the territory.”

His Lithuanian counterpart, Gabrielius Landsbergis, said there was a “very lively debate” going on in Germany. “I hope it will be fruitful as it has been in the past, that Germany will send tanks.” Unfortunately, as those of us who are waiting for them to be sent, we have to wait another day.

Recalling Lithuania’s oppression under the Soviet Union, Landsbergis said “we have to overcome the fear of defeating Russia,” without naming specific countries. “If we don’t prepare for Russia to lose the war, then we are not serious about helping Ukraine win,” he said.

The EU’s foreign policy and security chief, Josep Borrell, said he thought such weapons should be provided to the Ukrainian military, but described that as a decision for EU member states.

The EU is expected to sign off on an additional €500m (£440m) in arms funding for Ukraine through its European peace fund, pending legal formalities. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said that there is no doubt that this is the decision we will make today.

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