Under mounting pressure from its Western allies, Germany, which had so far refused to send tanks to Ukraine, now says it would not stand in the way of Poland if it wanted to give Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made the remark on Sunday after being asked what would happen if Poland went ahead with sending German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without German approval.
"For the moment the question has not been asked, but if we were asked, we would not stand in the way," she told France's LCI TV.
Baerbock's comment came after earlier in the day, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a summit in Paris that all decisions on weapons deliveries to Ukraine would be made in coordination with allies, including the United States.
Ukraine has been calling on its Western allies for months to supply it with the modern German-made tanks, but Berlin has so far held back from sending
them or allowing other NATO countries to do so.
Germany's refusal to supply Ukraine with the tanks boils down to its position that German tanks should only be supplied to Ukraine if its other Western allies, particularly the United States, agreed to provide tanks of their own.
US officials, however, have been quoted as saying that President Joe Biden's administration is not poised to send its own tanks, including the M1 Abrams.
Speaking at the Paris summit, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he expected a decision on the provision of tanks to Ukraine soon.
France does not rule out delivery of tanks to Ukraine
At a press conference following the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out the possibility of sending Leclerc tanks to Ukraine.
Macron said sending tanks must not escalate the situation, must take into account the time to train Ukrainians to be effective, and must not endanger France's own security.
"Regarding the Leclercs, I asked the army minister to work on it, but nothing has been ruled out," Macron said, adding that the move would have to be coordinated with allies, such as Germany in the coming days and weeks.
Last Saturday, the UK government said it was set to supply Ukraine with a fresh package of lethal military equipment, including heavy battle tanks. The Challenger 2 tanks were expected to arrive in Ukraine in the coming weeks, a statement from the British prime minister's office said at the time.
The Kremlin's spokesman said on Friday that Western countries supplying additional tanks to Ukraine would not change the course of the conflict and that they would add to the problems of the Ukrainian people.
Earlier on Sunday, a senior Russian official warned that deliveries of offensive weapons to Ukraine by the United States and NATO for attacks on Russia would lead to a global catastrophe.
Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the lower house of the Russian parliament, made the remarks in a post on his Telegram channel, after Ukraine’s allies promised Kiev a new military aid package worth billions of dollars last week.
"Supplies of offensive weapons to the Kiev regime would lead to a global disaster. If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons," Volodin said.