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Germany's top diplomat says Berlin would not block Poland from sending tanks to Ukraine

Germany's top diplomat says Berlin would not block Poland from sending tanks to Ukraine
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Monday, 23 January, 2023, 11:18

Germany's foreign minister said Sunday her government would not stand in the way if Poland wants to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, in a possible breakthrough for Kyiv, which wants the tanks for its fight against Russia's invasion.

Ukrainian officials have been calling on Western allies to supply them with the modern German-made tanks for months — but Berlin has so far held back from sending them, or allowing other NATO countries to do so.

Asked what would happen if Poland went ahead and sent its Leopard 2 tanks without German approval, Annalena Baerbock said on France's LCI TV: "For the moment the question has not been asked, but if we were asked we would not stand in the way."

Her remarks appeared to go further than German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's comments at a summit in Paris earlier on Sunday that all decisions on weapons deliveries would be made in coordination with allies including the United States.

Germany has been under heavy pressure to let Leopards go to Ukraine. But Scholz's Social Democrat party is traditionally skeptical of military involvements and wary of sudden moves that could cause Moscow to further escalate.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Sunday that he expected a decision soon on the tanks, though he kept up a note of caution.

Pistorius told ARD TV that Germany would not make a hasty decision because the government had many factors to consider, including consequences at home for the security of the German population.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeated his long-standing plea for the tanks at his Sunday meeting with former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was visiting Kyiv.

"We need more weapons: tanks, aircraft, long-range missiles," Zelenskyy said, according to a statement on his website.