Poland will be allowed to transfer German-made tanks to Ukraine “or we will do the right thing ourselves,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday.
Any transfer of the Leopard 2 main battle tanks generally requires permission from Berlin as they are made in Germany.
When asked about the delay in Germany authorizing the transfer, Morawiecki said Poland had offered Ukraine 14 tanks.
“At the same time, we must ensure that others also meet these needs. Among these others, those who have been the least proactive so far are the Germans,” he said during a video interview on his way back from the International Economic Forum in Davos.
“We will continue to strive, we will continue to urge the chancellor and Germany to respond to our proposal as soon as possible.”
New defense minister: Morawiecki was also asked if he expected a change after Boris Pistorius, who has called for the relaxation of sanctions against Russia, took over as German defense minister.
“This worries me greatly. I don’t know much about Germany’s new defense minister. What I do know gives me some anxiety,” Morawiecki said.
But Pistorius should be given “a few days” to see “what his first steps will be,” Morawiecki added.
We agreed that we would hand over the tanks together,” he said. “Consent is secondary. Either we get this permission or we do the right thing ourselves.”
“The most important thing is that the Germans, Danes, Finns, French and other countries offer their modern tanks and heavy equipment as soon as possible,” Morawiecki said. “The ability to defend freedom in Ukraine, and therefore the security of the whole of Europe, may depend on it.”
‘Encouraging and inspiring others’: Poland has already sent 250 tanks to Ukraine, Morawiecki told CNN’s Richard Quest on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum.
“We were the first to offer the Leopard tanks and we are now encouraging and inspiring others, especially the Germans, to do their part,” he said.
“Now, the Leopard tanks are the next round of our support for Ukraine. A crucial point is: will the Germans finally, finally give their share of heavy artillery, especially heavy and modern tanks,” said Morawiecki.
“And this is the big question, because 14 tanks on top of 250 is not the game changer, but if France and especially Germany and some other countries each gave 20-30 tanks, then it could make a difference for Ukraine.” he added.
Some context: The Western allies are under increasing pressure to supply Ukraine with heavy battle tanks.
France, Poland and the United Kingdom have promised to soon send tanks for the Ukrainian army to use to defend itself against Russia. Finland is considering following suit.
Germany has said it would transfer infantry fighting vehicles to Kiev, but has yet to commit to sending tanks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has insisted that such a plan must be fully coordinated with the entire Western alliance, including the United States.
Western allies will meet tomorrow at US Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss further military aid for Kiev.