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Poland seeks a German green signal to send Leopard tanks into Ukraine


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Poland’s prime minister said on Monday that Warsaw is seeking a green signal from Germany to send its famous Leopard tanks to Ukraine but plans to send them regardless of Berlin’s decision.

On Sunday, Germany’s foreign minister said Berlin would not stand in Poland’s way if it wanted to.

The issue of supplying German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine has dominated recent discussions among Western allies about how much and what kind of material assistance they should provide to Ukraine as the first anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches.

The development comes as both sides are believed to be planning spring offensives to break the stalemate in what has become a war of attrition in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The current fighting is centered in the town of Bakhmut in the east, where Russian Wagner mercenaries and Ukrainian forces are fighting. Russia said on Sunday that its forces were improving their positions in the Zaporozhye region of southern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been grappling with a corruption scandal that could dampen Western enthusiasm for his government.

One newspaper reported that the military had secured food at wildly inflated prices and a deputy minister had resigned after an investigation into allegations that he had accepted a bribe.

Tigers are moving

Ukrainian officials have been pleading with Western allies for Leopard tanks for months, but Germany has declined to send them or allow other NATO countries to re-export them. The Tigers, which are held by a group of NATO countries, are seen by defense experts as the best fit for Ukraine.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw would ask Germany for permission to re-export tanks to Ukraine, “but this is a matter of secondary importance.

“Even if we do not get this approval … we will continue to transfer our tanks, along with other tanks, to Ukraine,” he told reporters. “The condition for us at the moment is to build at least a small coalition of countries.”

Western allies pledged billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine last week but failed to persuade Germany to lift its veto power over supplying Ukraine with tanks.

But in an apparent shift in Germany’s position, Foreign Minister Analina Berbock said on Sunday her government would not block Poland if it tried to send the Panthers.

Berbock’s remarks seemed to go further than Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s remarks at a summit in Paris earlier that day that all decisions on arms deliveries would be made in coordination with allies, including the United States.

Ukraine says the armored battle tanks will give its ground forces more mobility and protection ahead of a new Russian offensive expected in the coming months.

horrible war

US lawmakers pushed their government on Sunday to export M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, saying that even sending a symbolic number would help push European allies to do the same. So far, Washington has shied away from promising its tanks, which are powered by fuel-hungry turbine engines, and thinks they make less sense for Ukraine than Leopards.

Britain said it would supply 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out the possibility of sending Ukrainian Leclerc tanks. British and French tanks are much less widely available than the Tigers.

A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that the delivery of offensive weapons to Kyiv that threaten Russian territory would lead to a global catastrophe and would make arguments against the use of weapons of mass destruction unacceptable.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, has warned that US and NATO support for Ukraine is leading the world into a “terrible war”.

European Union foreign ministers meet on Monday to discuss more military aid to Ukraine. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he hoped to approve another 500 million euro ($545 million) tranche of support.

The ministers will also discuss using Russian assets frozen in Europe under the sanctions – including 300 billion euros ($327 billion) of Russian central bank reserves – and using the money to help Ukraine rebuild from war.

Since its February 24, 2022 invasion, which it described as defending itself against an aggressive West, Russia has taken control of parts of Ukraine and said it would never return it. Ukraine said that restoring its territorial integrity is not open to negotiation.

Also on Monday, Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR) accused Ukraine of stockpiling weapons that the West supplies to nuclear power plants across the country. No evidence was provided and Reuters was unable to verify these claims.

The SVR said US-supplied HIMARS missile launchers, air defense systems and artillery ammunition were delivered to the Rivne nuclear power plant in northwest Ukraine.

Ukraine’s nuclear power plants have been a focus of attention since the beginning of the conflict. Russian forces captured the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant less than 48 hours after the invasion forces, and also captured the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – early in the war.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency has expressed grave concerns about the attacks near the Zaporizhye plant, warning of the risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

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