22 January 2023

Germany will not block Poland giving Ukraine tanks, minister says

22 January 2023

Germany’s top diplomat says her country would not object if Poland decides to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

French TV channel LCI posted clips from an interview with foreign minister Annalena Baerbock on Sunday, in which she said her government has not received a formal request for approval from Warsaw, but added “if we were asked, we would not stand in the way”.

The Ukrainian government has said it needs advanced tanks to continue its defence against Russia’s invasion and war.

Berlin has hesitated in signing off on supplying the German-made Leopards, but agreed on Friday to review its stocks.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki criticised Germany’s reluctance, saying that if the country did not consent to transferring Leopard tanks to Ukraine, his country was prepared to build a “smaller coalition” of countries that would send theirs anyway.

Earlier Sunday, the speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, State Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, said that governments giving more powerful weapons to Ukraine could cause a “global tragedy that would destroy their countries”.

“Supplies of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime would lead to a global catastrophe,” he said.

“If Washington and Nato supply weapons that would be used for striking peaceful cities and making attempts to seize our territory as they threaten to do, it would trigger a retaliation with more powerful weapons.”

Germany is one of the main donors of weapons to Ukraine, and it ordered a review of its Leopard 2 stocks in preparation for a possible green light.

Nonetheless, the government in Berlin has shown caution at each step of increasing its commitments to Ukraine, a hesitancy seen as rooted in its history and political culture.

French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, said Sunday that he does not rule out sending Leclerc battle tanks to Ukraine and had asked his defence minister to “work on” the idea.

Mr Macron spoke during a during a news conference in Paris with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as their countries commemorating the 60th anniversary of their post-Second World War friendship treaty.

In a joint declaration, France and Germany committed to their “unwavering support” for Ukraine.

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