Poland has said it is willing to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without approval, but says it will seek permission from Berlin first because Kyiv is demanding heavy weapons from its allies.
European nations on Monday will spend another 500 million euros ($543 million) to arm Kyiv, boosting a multi-billion dollar effort to help Ukraine push back Russian forces. Agreed.
But while many countries are promising military hardware, Kyiv is pushing for more advanced and heavier weapons, especially the mighty Leopard 2.
Berlin, which needs to give permission to re-export tanks to Ukraine, has been accused of failing to make an important decision.
After days of mounting pressure and deadlocks, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday that Germany would not stand in the way if Warsaw asked to send Leopard 2 tanks.
“We will seek this approval,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters on Monday.
Morawiecki did not specify when the request to Germany would be made. He said Poland was building a coalition of nations ready to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
“Even if we don’t get such approval in the end, we will still provide tanks to Ukraine anyway, within a small coalition of countries, even if Germany doesn’t belong to that coalition,” Morawiecki said.
“Kill more of our people”
Ukraine, which still uses Soviet-era tanks, said the world’s indecision was only “killing more people”.
Poland announced earlier this month that it was ready to hand over 14 Leopard tanks to Kyiv, but was waiting for a clear statement from Berlin approving the transfer.
Berlin insists that all allies must work together.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated its stance on Monday, saying the government would “not rule out” the transfer of tanks, but added that “it has not yet been decided”.
Berlin has provided considerable aid, but has been repeatedly criticized for being a drag on providing military equipment.
German government spokesman Steffen Hevestreith said it was important not to take “reckless” steps that Germany might regret, adding that the decision should not be rushed.
“These are hard questions of life and death,” he added. “We have to ask what this means for our own defense.”
Asked how long a decision on sending tanks would take, Hevestrite said: “I don’t think it’s a matter of months now.”
Julian Paulak, a research fellow at the Hamburg Federal Military University, said that while many countries, including Britain and the United States, have sent various weapons to Ukraine, “we still have a long way to go before we can actually send 300 tanks.” Stated. Or 600 Infantry Fighting Vehicles ”.
Ukraine continues to use Soviet-era tanks, but at some point in the future “the numbers will decrease and Ukraine will become more and more dependent on Western ammunition and, consequently, on Western assets as well. Probably,” Pawlak told Al Jazeera.
Germany, plagued with post-World War II guilt, has always acted cautiously when it comes to conflict.
Under Germany’s War Arms Control Act, Poland and other purchasing nations require Berlin’s approval to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
This law aims to prevent the use of German-made weapons in conflict areas against Germany’s national interests.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the latest developments in Western Europe’s deployment of tanks to Ukraine “demonstrate growing tensions between members of the alliance.”
On Friday, about 50 countries agreed to provide Kyiv with billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including armored vehicles and ammunition needed to repel Russian forces.
European foreign ministers on Monday agreed to spend an additional 500 million euros ($543 million) to arm Ukraine, diplomats said. This brings the European Union’s total spending to he €3.6 billion ($3.9 billion).
Ukraine says tanks have played a key role in the war, which is raging in the east of the country.
As the war enters its second year, neither side shows any signs of backing down.