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Poland Says It Will Deliver Leopard 2 Tanks With Or Without German Greenlight

Poland said on January 23 that it could deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as part of a coalition of countries even without Berlin's approval for the re-export of the German-made tank as Ukrainian forces staved off fresh waves of Russian attacks in the east.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose country is pushing for allies who have Leopards to send them to Ukraine, said Berlin's agreement is of "secondary importance" as Warsaw is more interested in building a consensus about the issue.

"We will ask for such permission, but this is an issue of secondary importance. Even if we did not get this approval...we would still transfer our tanks together with others to Ukraine," Morawiecki told reporters.

"The condition for us at the moment is to build at least a small coalition of countries."

Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have also made a joint appeal to Germany to step up its leadership and send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, putting further pressure on Berlin to speed up its military aid for Kyiv.

Berlin has so far showed reluctance either for providing such tanks to Kyiv itself or allowing third countries that have Leopard tanks to send them to Ukraine. Germany has reportedly linked lifting its opposition to Washington's also sending Ukraine U.S.-made Abrams tanks.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock indicated on January 22 that the stalemate is nearing a conclusion, saying Berlin would be ready to authorize Poland to send Leopards to Ukraine.

"If we are asked the question, then we will not stand in the way," Baerbock told LCI television after a Franco-German summit meeting in Paris.

However, spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on January 23 did not confirm that this was the German government's official position.

"I would perhaps like to put it this way: If such a request were to be made in Germany, which is not the case at the moment, then there are well-established procedures for answering such a request. And we all abide by them," Hebestreit said, adding that it was important for Germany not to take a “reckless” step that might be regretted afterward.

“These are hard questions of life and death,” he said. “We have to ask what this means for the defense of our own country.”

Baerbock herself declined to further comment on the tank issue on January 23, saying just that Ukraine's allies should try to do everything possible to make sure Ukraine will win its war against Russia.

"It's important that we as an international community do everything we can to defend Ukraine, so that Ukraine wins and wins the right to live in peace and freedom again," Baerbock said before a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an interview on January 22 with German public broadcaster ARD, said that while a limited number of German-made tanks would not tilt the balance in Ukraine's favor on the battlefield, it would be a strong boost for his troops' morale.

"When the Russian Army, which has 1,000 tanks, is against us, no other country solves the problem by deciding to give us 10, 20, or 50 tanks," Zelenskiy said. "But they would do a very important thing -- they would motivate our soldiers to fight for their values. Because [such a gesture would] show that the whole world is with you."

Zelenskiy also criticized Germany's conditioning tank deliveries to the United States' doing the same thing.

"You can't do that.... This is not an issue between Germany and America, a competition of ambitions," Zelenskiy said.

"Of course, you can talk for another six months, level your influence. But people die here every day.... Simply, if you can give Leopards then give them," Zelenskiy told ARD.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on January 23 that differences between allies over whether to provide tanks to Kyiv proved there was "nervousness" within the NATO military alliance, and that it was the Ukrainian people who would "pay for the pseudo-support" if the West delivers tanks.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces held out against a fresh wave of Russian attacks in the east, the military said on January 23.

Russian forces attempted to advance in three directions in the past 24 hours but were repelled, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said in its daily update, adding that the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, where heavy fighting has been under way for months, remained the main target of Moscow's offensive in eastern Ukraine.

By RFE/RL

Poland said on January 23 that it could deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as part of a coalition of countries even without Berlin's approval for the re-export of the German-made tank as Ukrainian forces staved off fresh waves of Russian attacks in the east.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose country is pushing for allies who have Leopards to send them to Ukraine, said Berlin's agreement is of "secondary importance" as Warsaw is more interested in building a consensus about the issue.

"We will ask for such permission, but this is an issue of secondary importance. Even if we did not get this approval...we would still transfer our tanks together with others to Ukraine," Morawiecki told reporters.

"The condition for us at the moment is to build at least a small coalition of countries."

Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have also made a joint appeal to Germany to step up its leadership and send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, putting further pressure on Berlin to speed up its military aid for Kyiv.

Berlin has so far showed reluctance either for providing such tanks to Kyiv itself or allowing third countries that have Leopard tanks to send them to Ukraine. Germany has reportedly linked lifting its opposition to Washington's also sending Ukraine U.S.-made Abrams tanks.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock indicated on January 22 that the stalemate is nearing a conclusion, saying Berlin would be ready to authorize Poland to send Leopards to Ukraine.

"If we are asked the question, then we will not stand in the way," Baerbock told LCI television after a Franco-German summit meeting in Paris.

However, spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on January 23 did not confirm that this was the German government's official position.

"I would perhaps like to put it this way: If such a request were to be made in Germany, which is not the case at the moment, then there are well-established procedures for answering such a request. And we all abide by them," Hebestreit said, adding that it was important for Germany not to take a “reckless” step that might be regretted afterward.

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“These are hard questions of life and death,” he said. “We have to ask what this means for the defense of our own country.”

Baerbock herself declined to further comment on the tank issue on January 23, saying just that Ukraine's allies should try to do everything possible to make sure Ukraine will win its war against Russia.

"It's important that we as an international community do everything we can to defend Ukraine, so that Ukraine wins and wins the right to live in peace and freedom again," Baerbock said before a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an interview on January 22 with German public broadcaster ARD, said that while a limited number of German-made tanks would not tilt the balance in Ukraine's favor on the battlefield, it would be a strong boost for his troops' morale.

"When the Russian Army, which has 1,000 tanks, is against us, no other country solves the problem by deciding to give us 10, 20, or 50 tanks," Zelenskiy said. "But they would do a very important thing -- they would motivate our soldiers to fight for their values. Because [such a gesture would] show that the whole world is with you."

Zelenskiy also criticized Germany's conditioning tank deliveries to the United States' doing the same thing.

"You can't do that.... This is not an issue between Germany and America, a competition of ambitions," Zelenskiy said.

"Of course, you can talk for another six months, level your influence. But people die here every day.... Simply, if you can give Leopards then give them," Zelenskiy told ARD.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on January 23 that differences between allies over whether to provide tanks to Kyiv proved there was "nervousness" within the NATO military alliance, and that it was the Ukrainian people who would "pay for the pseudo-support" if the West delivers tanks.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces held out against a fresh wave of Russian attacks in the east, the military said on January 23.

Russian forces attempted to advance in three directions in the past 24 hours but were repelled, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said in its daily update, adding that the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, where heavy fighting has been under way for months, remained the main target of Moscow's offensive in eastern Ukraine.

By RFE/RL

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