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Poland increases pressure to send German-made tanks to Ukraine | Russo-Ukrainian War

Poland has said it is willing to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without approval, but would seek permission from Berlin first, as Kyiv is pressing its allies to acquire heavy weapons.

European nations agreed on Monday to spend an additional 500 million euros ($543 million) to arm Kyiv in the latest boost to the multi-billion dollar campaign to help Ukraine repel Russian forces.

However, while dozens of nations have pledged military hardware, Kyiv is clamoring for more advanced and heavier weaponry, including the mighty Leopard 2 – seen as key to breaking through enemy lines.

Berlin, which must grant permission to re-export the tanks to Ukraine, has been criticized for not taking the critical decision.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_LEOPARD_2_TANKS_JAN22

After days of mounting pressure and blockage, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday that Germany would not stand in the way if Warsaw requested the shipment of Leopard 2 tanks.

“We will ask for this approval,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters on Monday.

Morawiecki did not specify when the request to Germany will be made. He said Poland was building a coalition of nations ready to send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

“Even if we don’t get such approval in the end, we will still give our tanks to Ukraine – in a small coalition of countries, even if Germany is not in this coalition,” said Morawiecki.

“Kill more of our people”

Ukraine, which still uses Soviet-era tanks, said the world’s indecisiveness was only “killing more of our people”.

Poland announced earlier this month that it was ready to deliver 14 Leopard tanks to Kyiv but was awaiting a clear statement from Berlin authorizing the transfer.

Berlin insisted on the need for all allies to work together.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman reiterated that position on Monday, saying the government “does not rule out” transferring the tanks, but adding: “He hasn’t decided yet.”

Although Berlin provided substantial aid, it was repeatedly criticized for dragging its feet in providing military equipment.

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said it was important Germany did not take a “reckless” step that it might regret, adding that a decision would not be rushed.

“These are difficult questions of life or death,” he added. “We have to ask ourselves what this means for the defense of our own country.”

Pressed on how soon a decision on sending tanks could take, Hebestreit said, “I guess it’s not a matter of months now.”

Julian Pawlak, a research associate at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Hamburg, said that although many countries, including the UK and the US, have sent various weapons to Ukraine, there is still “a long way before actually sending those 300 tank numbers”. or 600 infantry fighting vehicles”.

As Ukraine continues to use Soviet-era tanks, at some point in the future “the numbers will go down and Ukraine will depend more and more on western ammunition and, therefore, also more on Western resources,” Pawlak told Al Jazeera.

Haunted by its guilt after World War II, Germany has always acted cautiously when it comes to conflict.

Under Germany’s War Weapons Control Act, Poland and other buyer nations require Berlin’s approval to hand over Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

The law aims to prevent German-made weapons from being used in conflict zones against German interests.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the latest developments regarding Western Europe’s sending of tanks to Ukraine “signalled growing nervousness among alliance members”.

On Friday, some 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 agreed on Monday to spend an additional 500 million euros ($543 million) to arm Ukraine, diplomats said. This brings the European Union’s total common expenditure to 3.6 billion euros ($3.9 billion).

Ukraine has called tanks the key to its effort in the war, which has seen heavy fighting in the east of the country.

Neither side shows signs of backing down as the war prepares for a second year.

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