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Poland to ask for Germany’s permission to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Polish Leopard 2 tank fires during NATO's Defender Europe 2022 military exercises near Orzysz, Poland, May 24, 2022. (File photo by Reuters)

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says he will submit a request to Germany for permission to send heavy tanks to Ukraine, now that Berlin has given Warsaw the green light to proceed.

Germany has so far procrastinated on unlocking a package of its Leopard 2 tanks — one of Europe’s most advanced battle tanks — for Ukraine. Berlin says Western tanks should only be supplied to Ukraine if Kiev's main allies, not least the United States, agree.

In an apparent shift in stance, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday Berlin “would not stand in the way” if Warsaw wanted to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Poland’s prime minister sees the recent development as a “glimmer of hope.”

Morawiecki has said, “Even if we did not get this approval... we would still transfer our tanks together with others to Ukraine. The condition for us at the moment is to build at least a small coalition of countries.”

During a meeting in Ramstein, Germany, last week, European countries, including Poland, had been hoping a deal would be struck over supplying the military vehicles to Ukraine. The meeting ended with no agreement on the tanks. This led Morawiecki to threaten to send the 14 Leopard 2 tanks Warsaw had earlier promised to Kiev, with or without Berlin’s approval. “We will not passively watch Ukraine bleed to death,” he said.

Russia started its “special military operation” in Ukraine with the declared aim of “de-Nazifying” the country in February 2022. Ever since, Britain, the United States, and its Western allies have imposed waves of unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow and have given Ukraine tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, and communication systems. Russia has warned the West against sending military hardware to Ukraine, saying the move would prolong the war.

Britain has already pledged its Challenger 2 battle tanks, while France is also mulling a delivery. The head of the British army Sir Patrick Sanders said in an internal message sent to troops that the promised delivery of Challenger 2 tanks to Kiev would leave the British army "temporarily weaker."

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