Germany will not prevent Ukraine from receiving Leopard 2 tanks via other countries

Poland has announced that it will work with other allies to build a "smaller coalition" to address the shipment of tanks to Kiev. "Ukraine and Europe will win this war, with or without Germany," says the Polish Prime Minister

AFP/ MICHELE TANTUSSI  -   German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in talks with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused divisions within European countries and NATO members over the military support provided to Kiev. While some nations fear that this assistance will contribute to a further escalation of the war, others continue to stress that in order to defeat Moscow it is necessary and essential to arm Ukraine as much as possible. The latest rift within Ukraine's allies has arisen over the new shipment of tanks to Ukraine.

In this regard, Germany - once again - has come under fire from other European nations for its doubts over the supply of its Leopard 2 combat vehicles to the Ukrainian army. Ramstein Air Base was last week the scene of this new friction, which ended without an agreement on the delivery of Leopard to Kiev. Despite pressure and criticism, Berlin was reluctant to accept the delivery of the tanks

In contrast to Germany, other countries did agree to send armoured vehicles and other weapons to Ukrainian troops. Even Poland said it would prepare a 'non-standard' action to send the Leopards to Ukraine if German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius objected.

However, this would not be necessary as Berlin will not prevent Warsaw from transferring its tanks to Kiev. This was confirmed by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during an interview with French television station LCI. "If we were asked, we would not stand in the way," she said. However, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said that any Polish request regarding the re-export of tanks would be subject to "standard procedure" and would go through Germany's Federal Security Council, a body that deals with arms exports.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that his government would seek Germany's permission to send the Leopard tanks, but said that "even if they don't get that approval", they will still supply the vehicles. "Ukraine and Europe will win this war, with or without Germany", Morawiecki stressed.

Although Warsaw sees Baerbock's statement as "a glimmer of hope" in the event that Berlin maintains its current position, the Polish government will work with other allies to build a "smaller coalition" to deal with the tank shipment, Morawiecki told the Polish press agency, PAP. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has already announced his country's readiness to supply Leopard tanks to Kiev.

"We will not watch passively as Ukraine bleeds to death," he stressed. "The Ukrainian people are fighting for our freedom," he added. The Polish Prime Minister also took the opportunity to send a message to Berlin, stressing that support for the Ukrainian army is justified both "politically and morally". "I hope that Germany will understand this as soon as possible," he said. 

Despite not yet having the Leopards, the UK will send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, while French President Emmanuel Macron has not ruled out the possibility of transferring the Leclerc battle tanks. The United States, Ukraine's main military ally, is considering sending M1 Abrams tanks, which were not included in the last arms package approved by Washington.

However, as Reuters notes, the Leopards "are seen as the best option for Ukraine because they are more readily available than British and French tanks and use less fuel than the turbine-powered US Abrams". Most German Leopard tanks - vehicles that have been present in places like Afghanistan and Syria - are produced in Europe, making it "relatively easy" to move them to Ukraine, analyst Chris Partridge tells the BBC. "That also makes it easier to maintain and repair, which is a vital aspect of any weapons system," he adds. 

Once again, Russia threatens countries transferring weapons to Ukraine

As Europe debates sending tanks and more weaponry to Ukraine, Russia has once again threatened countries on the continent. "The supply of offensive weapons to Kiev would lead to a global catastrophe," Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said, according to AP. Volodin warned that sending Western weapons could "trigger retaliation with more powerful weapons". 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov alluded to "nervousness" within NATO over the supply of tanks. He added that all countries would be "responsible for bombing" Ukraine.