German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech in front of a Leopard 2 tank during a visit to a military base of the German army Bundeswehr in Bergen, Germany/File Photo: Reuters
KYIV: Poland’s prime minister said that his country is building a coalition of nations ready to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine even if Germany does not give formal permission for such transfers.
Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters that Poland will seek Germany’s permission, but that asking for Berlin’s approval is of secondary importance.
“We are constantly exerting pressure on the government in Berlin to make its Leopards available,” Morawiecki said.
A Polish government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, later told state television that seeking Germany’s permission was “an important gesture and we will certainly carry it out in the coming days.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French TV channel LCI on Sunday that if Poland were to request permission to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, “We would not stand in the way.”
Until Baerbock’s comments, Germany had been reticent to send its own Leopard 2s to Ukraine or approve their transfer by countries that purchased the tanks from Germany.
Ukraine has long sought heavy tanks to combat Russian forces using more modern tanks than those in Ukraine’s arsenal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, wrote Monday on Telegram that what Ukraine needs is not 10-20 tanks, “but several hundred” in order to achieve its goal.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the debate among European countries about whether to send Ukraine tanks showed “increasing nervousness” within NATO. He also warned that countries supplying weapons to Ukraine “will carry responsibility for that.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday did not say whether Germany would agree to provide Ukraine with battle tanks, but the Reuters news agency reported that he said such decisions would be made in coordination with allies including the United States.