Poland asks Germany for permission to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Leopard 2 tank
AP/Michael Sohn
A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event held for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. Germany faces mounting pressure to supply battle tanks to Kyiv and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is airing frustration about not obtaining enough weaponry as Western allies confer on how best to support Ukraine nearly 11 months into Russia’s invasion. Germany’s new defense minister welcomed U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Berlin, declaring that German weapons systems delivered so far have proven their worth and that aid will continue in the future. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

Poland on Tuesday formally asked Germany for permission to transfer some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

The ask comes after intense international pressure on Berlin, as the weapon maker, to sign off on the decision before the tanks are sent to a non-NATO country.   

“The Germans have already received our request for consent to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter. “I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. This is our common cause, because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!” 

A spokesman for the German government told CNN they would review the request with “necessary urgency,” but would not say how long a potential approval could take.  

“Applications for the approval of an arms export are examined with the necessary urgency in accordance with the established procedures and arms export guidelines,” they said.  

And German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who spoke Tuesday alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said if there is an agreement to send the tanks, Berlin was in a position to “act very soon.” 

Ukraine has begged the West for more modern battle tanks as concerns mount over a renewed Russian offensive in the coming months.

But Kyiv’s allies have been at odds over the best weapons system to send, with Germany initially insisting the U.S. also ship its M1 Abrams tank to Ukraine before it agrees to export its Leopards.

Top U.S. defense officials, however, have insisted the Abrams is not the right tool for the fight due to its complex maintenance requirements. Yet The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Biden administration is now leaning toward providing the tanks to Kyiv.

Details of any Leopards transfers are still up in the air, but Poland said it would ask the European Union for reimbursement for any of the vehicles it sends to Ukraine, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a Tuesday interview with Polish broadcaster TVN. 

Tags heavy tanks Jens Stoltenberg NATO Russia-Ukraine war
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