Poland has reiterated that it is ready to send tanks to Ukraine without Germany’s consent as Berlin is under pressure to supply heavy weapons that Kyiv has been demanding.
Poland’s prime minister said the government would ask Berlin for permission to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but said the agreement was of “secondary importance”.
Mateusz Morawiecki says: “Our condition at the moment is to build at least a coalition of small nations,” he added.
Berlin is under intense pressure to release its military hardware after failing to make a decision at the much-anticipated international defense summit held at the US military base Ramstein in southwestern Germany on Friday.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s comments on Sunday caused confusion in Berlin that her country would not “get in the way” of Poland sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine. For now, it remains unclear whether her remarks mark a change in the government’s position or an attempt by the Greens to rectify Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s failed communication strategy.
Bearbock did not repeat her comments when pressed on the issue Monday morning. Otherwise, Ukraine will cease to exist,” she told reporters at a meeting of the EU’s Council on Foreign Relations in Brussels.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck of the Communist Party in Baerbock said 10 days ago that the ministry would not block the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine from other European countries. “There’s a difference between making your own decisions and blocking other people’s decisions,” Habeck said at the time.
Re-exports of German-made tanks require approval from the Ministry of Economy, but Habeck’s blank power of attorney for such decisions effectively moved the decision-making process to Scholz’s office.
It is hard to imagine that Scholz would actually block Poland’s formal request, revealed Monday, to supply Kyiv with Leopard 2 tanks from its stockpile. Than the media coverage made it sound.
On Sunday night, Germany’s new Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, rejected reports of open disagreements between Washington and Berlin on the tank issue. “Germany was not alone,” Pistorius said of last Friday’s meeting at Ramstein Air Base.
Poland has said it is ready to send 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine. In an earlier comment, Morawiecki said Germany’s attitude was unacceptable. We will win the war,” he said.
The EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels discussed the issue on Monday, but there was no immediate progress.
Finland’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavist, said Finland could supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks and spare parts and train soldiers in tank operation and maintenance, but said the decision rested with Germany. “We’re still working out what the package will be. I hope countries like Germany will be in a position to participate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s strongest ally in the Baltics has made it clear that it wants Germany to act quickly. He said Estonia spends 1% of its national income on military aid to Ukraine and urged other countries to do the same. We need to give the people not only shields, but swords to liberate their territories.”
His Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis said there were “very active discussions” underway in Germany. I hope it works.Unfortunately, we have to wait one more day for it to be shipped.”
Recalling Lithuania’s oppression under the Soviet Union, Landsbergis said, without naming a specific country, “We must overcome the fear of defeating Russia.” Otherwise, we are not serious about helping Ukraine win,” he said.
The EU’s head of foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, said he believed such weapons should be provided to the Ukrainian army, but said it was a decision for EU member states.
The European Union also ratified a new military aid package to Ukraine worth 500 million euros on Monday when foreign ministers met in Brussels. The package was approved along with another €45 million for “non-lethal equipment” for her EU military training mission to Ukraine, sources told Reuters.
Earlier, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Siart said Hungary would not block the EU move.