Germany is ready to authorise Poland to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine to help Kyiv fight the Russian invasion if Warsaw makes such a request, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has said.
“If we are asked the question, then we will not stand in the way,” Baerbock told LCI television on Sunday after a Franco-German summit in Paris.
“We know how important these tanks are and this is why we are discussing this now with our partners. We need to make sure people’s lives are saved and Ukraine’s territory liberated.”
The comments appeared to signal that Berlin was ready to authorise European countries to deliver German-made tanks to Ukraine amid growing pressure from Kyiv and other allies for such a move. Under the license agreement, countries cannot send German tanks without Berlin’s approval.
So far, no Western-designed main battle tanks have been delivered to Ukraine for defensive combat against invading Russian forces.
Ukraine has repeatedly urged its Western allies to deliver more, and faster, military aid to the war-torn country. “Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians. Think faster,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Saturday.
The criticism came after 50 countries met at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany and agreed to supply Kyiv with billions of dollars of military hardware, including armoured vehicles and munitions.
But a decision by Germany over the delivery of the much-requested Leopard 2 combat tanks – considered one of the best-performing models worldwide – failed to materialise.
Despite intense pressure and criticism, Germany said it had not decided yet on whether to give permission to other European countries to transfer the German-made tanks to Ukraine.
Poland has announced it is ready to deliver 14 Leopard tanks to Kyiv but Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday he was waiting for “a clear statement” from Berlin whether countries that have the Leopards can transfer them to Ukraine.
He also described Germany’s refusal to send its own tanks to Ukraine as “unacceptable”.
“Innocent people are dying every day,” he told the PAP news agency.
In a joint statement on Saturday, the foreign ministers of the three Baltic states – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – urged Germany “to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine now”.
Earlier on Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said all decisions on weapons deliveries would be made in coordination with allies, including the United States.
Speaking on a visit to Paris to celebrate 60 years since the signing of a landmark treaty between France and Germany, Scholz said Berlin had always in the past acted “in close coordination with our friends and allies”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out the possibility of sending Leclerc tanks – France’s main battle tanks – to Ukraine.
“As for the Leclerc, I asked the ministry to work on it. Nothing is ruled out,” Macron said but stressed that any effort to dispatch the hardware should be decided and coordinated “collectively” with allies, including Germany.