Prime Minister says Poland can transfer German-made Panther tanks to Ukraine without Berlin’s approval
Poland will get permission to transfer German-made tanks to Ukraine “or we will do the right thing,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Thursday.
Replacement of Leopard 2 main battle tanks would normally require permission from Berlin as they are manufactured in Germany.
Asked about Germany’s delay in granting permission for the transfer, Morawiecki said Poland had given Ukraine 14 main battle tanks.
“At the same time, we need to ensure that others meet these requirements as well. Among these, the least effective by far are the Germans,” he said during a video interview after returning from the Davos International Economic Forum.
“We will continue our efforts and continue to press the Foreign Ministry and Germany to respond to our proposal as soon as possible.”
Morawiecki was also asked if he expects change after Boris Pistorius takes over as German defense minister, who has called for the easing of sanctions against Russia.
“It worries me a lot. I don’t know much about Germany’s new defense minister. What I do know worries me a little,” Morawiecki said.
But Pistorius should be given “a few days” to see “what his first steps will be,” Morawiecki said.
“We have agreed that we will supply tanks together,” he said. “Consent is secondary. Either we get that consent, or we do the right thing.”
“The most important thing is that the Germans, the Danes, the Finns, the French and other countries are providing their modern tanks and heavy equipment as soon as possible,” Morawiecki said. “The ability to protect freedom in Ukraine, and therefore the security of the whole of Europe, may depend on it.”
Poland has already sent 250 tanks to Ukraine, Morawiecki told CNN’s Richard Quest on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum on Wednesday.
“We were the first to supply the Leopard tanks and now we are encouraging and encouraging others, especially the Germans, to do their part,” he said.
“Now the Leopard tanks are the next round of our support for Ukraine. The most important thing is whether the Germans will finally bring their share of heavy artillery, especially heavy and modern tanks,” Morawiecki said.
“This is important, because 14 out of 250 tanks is not a game changer, but if France and especially Germany and some other countries contributed 20 to 30 tanks each, yes, it would make a difference for Ukraine,” he added.
Some context: Western allies are under increasing pressure to supply Ukraine with heavy main battle tanks.
France, Poland and the UK have pledged to soon send the Ukrainian army’s main battle tanks in an effort to deter Russia. Finland is considering following suit.
Germany has said it will move infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv, but has not yet committed to sending main battle tanks. Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz has insisted that such a plan must be fully coordinated with all Western allies.