WARSAW, Poland — Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has announced his country will request Germany’s approval for the planned transfer of some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Poland is also in talks with a group of Western European nations, including the U.K., to jointly supply a large number of Leopard 2s and other tanks to its neighbor amid its combat against Russia’s invasion, he said.
Morawiecki told local news agency PAP that “even if we don’t eventually receive this approval, then we will, as part of a small coalition, if the Germans are not in this coalition, provide our tanks along with other [countries] to Ukraine.”
However, recent statements by German government officials indicate that Berlin would not oppose the transfer.
In a Jan. 22 interview with French broadcaster LCI, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin “would not oppose” if Poland or other allies requested its permission to transfer their Leopard tanks to Kyiv. Baerbock added the German authorities “have not been asked so far” by Warsaw for such permission.
Germany donated the tanks, which were previously operated by the Bundeswehr, to Poland, with deliveries kicking off in 2002. Berlin must approve all weapon transfers of German-made weaponry even long after supplying the gear to partners.
Poland’s land forces currently operate some 247 Leopard 2s in different variants. These comprise Leopard 2A4 and 2A5 tanks, and Leopard 2PL tanks modernized by the Polish defense industry in collaboration with Germany’s Rheinmetall.
“Poland has decided that, as part of the development of an international coalition, it is ready to deliver a company of Leopard tanks to Ukraine,” a spokesperson for the Polish Ministry of National Defence told Defense News.
A company consists of 14 tanks.
In the coming years, Poland’s land forces are to base their modern tank fleet on U.S. M1A2
Abrams and South Korean K2 tanks, but the nation’s military currently relies chiefly on the Leopard 2s. Last year, Warsaw supplied its Soviet-designed T-72 tanks to Kyiv.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is scheduled to meet with Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin on Tuesday, where a potential tank transfer to Ukraine could come up.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.
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- Source: https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2023/01/23/poland-continues-talk-of-a-leopard-2-alliance-even-without-germany/