Poland needs more tanks for Kiev and will look to Germany

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland said Monday it will ask Berlin for permission to send German-built Panther tanks to Ukraine as the government in Warsaw moves its Western allies to fast-track supplies of more military hardware to Kiev to repel a Russian invasion..

Germany reluctant to send tanks to Ukraine But Polish officials said on Sunday that Berlin would not try to prevent Poland from supplying Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks, following comments by the German foreign minister.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki did not specify when the request would be made to Germany at a news conference on Monday. He said Poland was forming a coalition of nations Panther ready to send 2 battle tanks to Ukraine

Poland needed Germany’s approvalIt builds tanks for shipment to a non-NATO country.

But even without permission from Germany, Morawiecki said Warsaw would make its own decisions.

Poland has become a leading advocate in the European Union for military aid to help Ukraine defeat the Kremlin’s invasion forces, 11 months after the war began. Germany’s reluctance has drawn criticism especially from Poland and the Baltic states, countries on NATO’s eastern flank that feel threatened by Russia’s renewed aggression.

Berlin, despite providing substantial aid, was criticized For delay in supply of military hardware.

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Monday it was important Germany did not take an “irresponsible” step, adding that a decision that could be regretted later would not be rushed.

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

Pressed on how long the decision to send the tanks could take, Hebestreit said: “Now I assume it’s not months.”

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The Ukrainian government says the tanks, particularly the Panthers, are vital to Kyiv’s war effort.

Earlier, Polish officials indicated that Finland and Denmark were ready to join Warsaw in sending Leopards to Ukraine. The United Kingdom has committed to sending some of its Challenger tanks. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that Leclerc had not ruled out sending battle tanks to Ukraine and had asked his defense minister to “work” on the idea.

But Macron said the decision was based on three criteria that also weighed on the minds of other Western leaders: sharing equipment would not escalate the conflict, and it would provide efficient and workable assistance while training took time. On balance, it would not weaken his country’s own military.

While Poland is asking Germany for permission to send Panther tanks to Ukraine, Morawiecki said the request is “secondary” as a group of EU countries looks at how to help Kyiv.

“In the end, even if we don’t get this permission, we – within this small alliance – even if Germany is not in this alliance, we will hand over our tanks to Ukraine along with others,” he said.

Morawiecki said talks had been held with “our partners in Brussels,” referring to the 27-nation European Union bloc.

“Naturally, these are not easy talks, but we will make efforts to break the barrier of reluctance in various countries,” he said.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbach told French TV channel LCI on Sunday that Poland had not formally asked Berlin for approval to share some German-made Leopards, but “if we were asked, we would not stand in the way.”

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Regarding Beerbock’s comments, Morawiecki said that “it makes sense to apply pressure” and that his words were a “spark of hope” that Germany could participate in the coalition.

Baerbock “sent a different message, providing a spark of hope that Germany will no longer hold back, but finally provide heavy, modern equipment in support of Ukraine,” Morawicki said.

“We continue to press the government in Berlin to make its Leopards available,” Morawiecki told a news conference in the western city of Poznan.

According to Morawiecki, Germany has “more than 350 active leopards and about 200 in reserve.”

Poland wants to send a company of Panther tanks, 14 of them, but they won’t make an impact in a war involving thousands of tanks. If other countries contribute, Warsaw reckons, the tank detachment could grow to the size of a much larger brigade.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said recent developments in Western Europe’s deployment of tanks to Ukraine “signal growing tensions among coalition members.”

Germany’s top diplomat, Baerbach, expressed positive views about the possibility of sending tanks to Ukraine. German officials “know how important these tanks are” and “this is why we are now discussing this with our partners,” Baerbach said in interview clips posted by LCI.

Ukraine’s supporters pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine during a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday. International security chiefs debated Ukraine’s urgent request for Leopard 2 tanks, and the absence of a deal obscured new military commitments.

Germany is one of the countries that has donated weapons to Ukraine and has ordered a review of its Leopard 2 stockpile in preparation for a possible green light. Yet the government in Berlin has shown caution at every step in increasing its military aid to Ukraine, a reluctance rooted in its history and political culture.

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Moscow has stepped up its warnings that the expansion would be catastrophic in response to promises of sophisticated Western weaponry for Kevin’s army.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday reiterated Moscow’s claim that Western products could lead to “unpredictable” consequences.

“We have said on several occasions that escalation is a very dangerous path, and its consequences can be unpredictable,” Ryabkov said. “Our signals are not heeded, and Russia’s enemies continue to raise the stakes.”

With the battlefield positions of both sides largely deadlocked during the winter months, Kremlin forces continued their bombing of Ukrainian areas.

Kharkiv Governor Ole Sinyehubov said on Monday that Russian forces had shelled several towns and villages in the northeast over the past 24 hours, killing a 67-year-old woman and wounding another resident.

Both sides show no signs of backing down as the war drags into its second year.

The Kremlin is keeping its options open for mobilizing more players. Russian officials announced in late October that they had succeeded in mobilizing an additional 300,000 reservists. However, some Russian lawyers and rights groups indicated that Putin’s demobilization order would remain in effect until another presidential decree is issued to formally end the operation.

Peskov said on Monday that even if a limited number of conscripts were mobilized, the order remained in effect because it included “other measures necessary to ensure the fulfillment of the army’s tasks”. He did not elaborate.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly warned of Russia’s plans to continue building up more troops.

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