Germany’s foreign minister said Berlin would not stop Poland from sending German-made tanks to Ukraine, while Poland’s prime minister vowed to build a coalition of nations willing to donate some of Europe’s most advanced weapons, whether Germany participates or not.
Pressure has mounted on Germany to authorize the transfer of its Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, which are in storage in many European countries and which Kyiv considers crucial to its war effort as fighting is expected to escalate again this spring. Polish officials have been among the loudest voices urging Germany to sign on, which it is legally required to do as the manufacturer of the tank.
“We will build a smaller coalition of countries ready to donate some of their modern equipment, modern tanks,” Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, told the Polish Press Agency in an interview published Sunday. “We will not passively watch Ukraine bleed to death.”
Defense officials meeting in Germany said on Friday they had failed to reach an agreement on the tanks with Berlin, which has so far resisted sending its own Leopards to Ukraine or giving other countries that have them the necessary approval to export them.
On Sunday, Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, said Berlin was open to at least allowing the allies to send the tanks to Ukraine. She told the French channel LCI Television that Germany “would not get in the way” if Poland decided to send them, although he added that Warsaw had not yet asked for such authorization.
His comments appeared to go beyond what was made by Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz Sunday at a summit in Paris, where he said any decision on the tanks would be made with the United States and other allies, the Reuters reported the news agency.
President Emmanuel Macron of France, speaking at the same summit, said he would consider sending French-made Leclerc tanks to Ukraine but would coordinate any decision with allies.
Also on Sunday, the new chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, argued on ABC’s “This Week” that the United States should send at least one M1 Abrams, its best tank, to the Ukraine to persuade Germany to give the Leopards the green light. Berlin has pushed for Washington to send Abrams tanks to Kyiv, a request the Biden administration has shown no interest in granting.
Ukraine’s requests for tanks and more weapons from the West have grown more urgent as spring approaches, when both sides in the conflict are preparing offensives, officials said. And recent Russian claims to have captured the small eastern towns of Soledar and Klishchiivka, part of a broader push to seize the city of Bakhmut, have added to the mounting pressure.
Ukraine’s deputy intelligence chief said in an interview with a Ukrainian news website on Sunday that the coming months could be decisive for the war.
“When spring and early summer are behind us, maybe we can start talking about ending the war,” the official said. Vadym Skibitsky said.
Cassandra Vinograd Y Matthew Mpoke Bigg contributed reporting.