Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Monday they will seek Germany’s permission to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine amid its ongoing war with Russia.
Morawiecki said Poland is building a coalition of countries prepared to send Leopards to Ukraine, but even without approval from Germany, he said, Poland will make its own decisions.
“We will ask [Germany] for permission, but this is a secondary theme,” Morawiecki said. “Even if, eventually, we do not get this permission, we — within this small coalition — even if Germany is not in this coalition, we will hand over our tanks, together with the others, to Ukraine.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French television channel LCI on Sunday that Poland has not formally requested approval to share some of its German-made Leopards.
“If we were asked, we would not stand in the way,” Baerbock said.
In response to Baerbock’s comments, Morawiecki said “exerting pressure makes sense” and that her words are a “spark of hope” that Germany may even participate in the coalition.
Morawiecki said Baerbock “sent a different message that offers a spark of hope that not only Germany will no longer block, but maybe finally will offer heavy, modern equipment in support of Ukraine.”
“We are constantly exerting pressure on the government in Berlin to make its Leopards available,” Morawiecki said at a news conference in the western city of Poznan.
Germany has “more than 350 active Leopards and about 200 in storage,” according to Morawiecki.
The Ukrainian government said tanks, particularly the German-made Leopards, are crucial in its attempt to fend off Russian forces.
Baerbock suggested Germany may be open to sending tanks to Ukraine, saying German officials “know how important these tanks are” and “this is why we are discussing this now with our partners.”
During a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, Ukraine’s supporters vowed to send billions of dollars in military aid.
Germany is one of the primary donors of weapons to Ukraine, and it ordered a review of its Leopard 2 stocks in preparation for potentially sending the tanks. Still, the German government has been cautious about increasing its military aid to Ukraine.
Hesitancy from Germany has sparked criticism, particularly from Poland and the Baltic States, countries on NATO’s eastern flank, that feel especially threatened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But Moscow responded to the pledges of sophisticated Western weapons for Ukraine by highlighting its warnings that escalation risks catastrophe. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday reaffirmed the Kremlin’s statement that the West supporting Ukraine with supplies could lead to “unpredictable” consequences.
“We have said on numerous occasions that escalation is the most dangerous path, and the consequences may be unpredictable,” Ryabkov said. “Our signals are not listened to, and Russia’s adversaries keep raising the stakes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.