Delivery of tanks to Ukraine: Poland ready to do without Germany’s endorsement

Poland warned on Monday that it was ready to do without approval from Berlin, which has “not yet” decided on the delivery of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, which is insistently demanding them .

The German government appears divided on the issue. Until now reluctant to decide, Chancellor Olaf Scholtz, who ultimately has to decide, finds himself under ever-increasing pressure on Monday, after the head of diplomacy Annalena Baerbock ruled on Sunday evening that Germany was ready to allow Warsaw to supply these armored vehicles to kyiv.

Under German law, a country possessing German weapons must seek permission from Berlin to transfer them to a third country.

“We are going to ask for such an agreement but it is a secondary question”, reacted Monday the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in front of journalists. “Even if we don’t get their agreement (from the Germans), we will give our tanks to Ukraine as part of a small coalition, even if Germany is not part of it.”

Poland, ready to deliver 14 Leopards to kyiv, is in discussions with about fifteen States on this subject. The head of the Polish government also estimated on Monday that Germany had a total of “more than 350 Leopards in operation” and around 200 others “in stock”.

Many European armies have Leopards, a considerable advantage because it could facilitate access to ammunition and spare parts and simplify maintenance, which is demanding for this type of equipment.

“We need tanks – not 10 or 20, but several hundred”, urged on Telegram, shortly before the Polish declarations, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian presidency AndriĆÆ Yermak.

“Today, every tank capable of fighting must end up on our front. For this is not only the Ukrainian front. This is the battlefield where civilization faces the swamps of backwardness and barbarism” , added Mr. Iermak, at a time when the Russians are on the offensive, in eastern Ukraine in particular.

– “Not decided yet” –

Sunday evening, Annalena Baerbock said that Germany was ready to allow Poland to send these tanks. “If we were asked the question, we would not oppose,” said the environmental minister, who governs in coalition with the Social Democrats of Olaf Scholz and the Liberals. But, “for the moment, the question has not been asked” by Warsaw.

On Monday, Steffen Hebestreit, the spokesman for the German Chancellor, clarified his position during a press conference: “The Federal Government does not rule out the delivery of Leopard tanks, it has not yet decided whether he was going to do it now.”

After the recent decision to deliver armored vehicles taken by Germany, the United States and France, the question is “to know whether we should immediately take a qualitative step and also supply combat tanks. And there to some countries that believe it should be done, others are more skeptical or reserved,” he said.

German Leopard 2 heavy tanks are likely to have a significant impact on Ukrainian forces against the steamroller of Russian troops.

“I understood how important these tanks are, we are fully aware of that,” said Baerbock.

Again questioned on the deliveries of tanks, Sunday in Paris during a press conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz had been evasive, repeating the need to act in consultation with the allies of the Ukraine.

The fear of a military escalation with Moscow and Berlin’s reluctance to assume leadership in the Western camp lead, according to analysts, Germany to hesitate on sending these weapons.

During a meeting on Friday at the American base at Ramstein in Germany, Ukraine’s Western allies had postponed any decision on the subject, arousing the irritation of kyiv, which criticized their “indecision”.

– The Russians at Soledar –

On the ground, one of the main leaders of the separatists in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, appeared in Soledar, a locality which Moscow claimed to have taken more than a week ago.

Speaking on Russian television on Monday, Mr Pushilin confirmed that the city was “destroyed”.

According to the Russian army, the conquest of this city is a step towards encircling Bakhmout, which Moscow has been trying to conquer since the summer and where the two sides are engaged in a fierce battle. According to Mr. Pushilin, the fighting there is “intensifying” and the Russian troops are “advancing”.

Ukraine has so far not officially acknowledged the loss of Soledar, saying it continues to fight in its western part. Again on Monday, the regional administration reported “active hostilities near Bakhmout and Soledar”, without further details.

The pro-Russian separatists have also announced that they have seized two nearby villages, Krasnopolivka and DvouretchiƩ.

On the diplomatic front, Estonia will expel the Russian ambassador, a measure of reciprocity after a similar decision taken a few hours earlier by Moscow with regard to the Estonian ambassador.

Russians and Westerners have multiplied the expulsions of diplomats in recent years, and more since the Russians launched their offensive against Ukraine on February 24, 2022. But this is the first time that ambassadors have been sent back to their country since the start of the war.

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