WARSAW (Reuters) – Germany has received an official request from Poland to be able to re-export German-made Leopard 2 tanks it owns to Ukraine, Poland’s defense minister said on Tuesday.
The Ukrainian authorities have been asking their Western allies for many months to provide them with modern combat tanks to retake the territories occupied by Russia in the east of the country.
Several countries, including Poland and Finland, have said they are ready to transfer Leopards, which are more powerful than the Russian tanks currently engaged in the field, but they have so far come up against the veto of Berlin, which says it fears provoking a military escalation.
“The Germans have received our request,” wrote MariuszBlaszczak on Twitter, calling on Berlin to “join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2s”.
A German government source confirmed that the Polish request had indeed been forwarded.
Germany has sent mixed messages about the Leopards in recent days, with some officials, such as Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Sunday, going so far as to assure that Berlin would not oppose them, only to be denied.
On a visit to Berlin on Tuesday, where he met with the new Minister of Defense, Boris Pistorius, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was confident that a solution would quickly be found concerning tank deliveries to Ukraine.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, with Christian Kraemer in Berlin; French version Tangi Salaün, editing by Kate Entringer)