Poland asks for formal authorization from Germany to send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine | International

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Poland has put in place the necessary administrative machinery to obtain authorization from Germany to be able to send its German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. It has already submitted the formal request to the government of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, according to the Polish Ministry of Defense and community sources. Warsaw thus makes effective its intention to act quickly in the supply of some tanks that the Ukrainian army has been demanding for months to defend itself against Russian aggression and to be able to recover land conquered by the invading forces, as well as to face the new offensive that , according to NATO, is preparing the Kremlin.

Although the Leopard 2 belongs to Poland, you need the authorization of the manufacturing country, in this case Germany, to re-export them to kyiv. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has appealed to Berlin to join the coalition of countries that Warsaw is promoting to send tanks and contribute those it has. “This is our common cause because it is about the security of the whole of Europe,” Blaszczak said on social media.

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, took advantage of his visit to Berlin to meet this Tuesday with the new German Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, to remind the allies that they must do more and faster to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression. The Scholz Executive continues to delay the decision on sending the battle tanks while waiting for an agreement from all the allies, something that has not yet occurred.

The committee in charge of authorizing or denying the re-export of German weapons is the Federal Security Council, made up of eight ministers and the chancellor, who chairs it. Other positions such as the General Inspector of the Armed Forces participate as advisers. The Council is not accountable to Parliament. It does not report when it meets or publishes what it decides, although in general the press finds out. The Polish application will be examined "with the necessary urgency in accordance with established procedures and guidelines for arms exports," a government spokesman said.

Berlin weighs pros and cons

"The situation remains the same," Boris Pistorius pointed out this morning in Berlin in an appearance with the NATO Secretary General after their meeting. Germany has not yet made a decision on sending the Leopard 2 main battle tanks requested by Ukraine and several of its Atlantic Alliance partners. Pistorius has wanted to anticipate the questions from journalists and has announced that the chancellor, Olaf Scholz, continues to evaluate the pros and cons of the delivery of tanks to kyiv. The minister has complained that Berlin's contribution to the defense of Ukraine "is sometimes forgotten in public discussion" and has indicated that in 2023 1.1 billion euros will be allocated to the purchase of weapons and ammunition for kyiv.

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Pistorius has reiterated that in the meeting at the Ramstein base (Germany) last week it was verified that there are allies who are still hesitant, although no other country has so far acknowledged their reluctance in public. "We are preparing the decision, which will arrive soon," he pointed out. Berlin is not getting in the way of the decision of other partners, said the minister, who has mentioned the fact that Ukrainian soldiers are going to be trained to use the Leopard 2, a proposal by Poland and Finland in Ramstein to which Berlin does not only he does not object but, according to Pistorius, he supports and encourages.

The debate over the agile Leopard 2 tanks in recent days and the pressure from Poland and the Baltic States to expedite Germany's decision has made visible some fractures between the allies in the formula of supplying lethal military material to kyiv. So far for Berlin supplying tanks has been a red line. This Tuesday, when Russia has increased the noise about what it has called a lack of unity and "nervousness" among the members of the Alliance on account of the tanks, the head of Defense of Germany has remarked that there is no "disunity" and that Berlin it is preparing to act quickly as soon as consensus arrives.

Stoltenberg's visit to Germany is not only a form of push to encourage Berlin but also a gesture to counteract the impression that the first cracks have appeared in the unity of the allies, in the midst of the controversy over the tanks and when Poland has assured that Berlin's approval is secondary (although legally required) and that even without receiving it he will send 14 of his Leopards. When asked directly if the NATO allies will supply tanks to Ukraine, Stoltenberg has reiterated that the talks are still underway, and has said a phrase that can be understood as a message to Poland, which has been very aggressive in its criticism. to Germany: "I think it is important to protect this space from confidential consultations between the Allies."

Stoltenberg: "The decision will come soon"

Stoltenberg has been convinced that the decision will come "soon" and has praised the role of Berlin in supporting Ukraine. “Germany is providing one of the greatest military, financial and humanitarian aid”, he has assured: “German weapons save lives in Ukraine every day”. But he has also made it very clear that more leadership is expected from the Olaf Scholz government. "At this crucial moment in the war, we must provide heavier systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster," he said.

"The only way to achieve lasting peace is to make it clear to Putin that he will not win on the battlefield," added the Norwegian. And for that the Ukrainian forces must be able to push back the Russians. "Not just to survive, but to win, to claim territory and exist as a sovereign and independent state in Europe."

Pistorius has defended himself against criticism of the announcement he made last week at Ramstein, when he said he had just ordered an inventory to see in detail how many Leopard units are available for combat. The opposition in Berlin made fun of the fact that, almost a year after the start of the invasion, the Ministry of Defense did not know how many Leopards it had. "Of course we know what we have, but we also have to analyze the capabilities of the industry, what it has stored, and the compatibility of the systems."

Equipment as complex as the Leopard requires more than training troops in its use. If Berlin eventually decides to join a coalition that sends tanks to Ukraine, it will ensure that they have adequate logistical support and the necessary spare parts. There are multiple versions and upgrades of the Leopard in European arsenals. Many are manufactured by the Rheinmetall consortium in Germany but there are also those produced in third countries thanks to the transfer of licences, as is the case of the Spanish Leopardo 2E.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has once again raised its tone and has warned that the supply of tanks to Ukraine will not bring "nothing good" and that it will affect relations between Russia and Germany. "These relations are already at a very low point and there is no constructive dialogue either with Germany or with other NATO countries," Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said at a daily telephone press conference quoted by the state agency. Tass.

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