Poland will either receive permission to transfer German-made tanks to Ukraine “or we will do the right thing ourselves,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Thursday.
Any transfer of the Leopard 2 battle tanks would typically require permission from Berlin as they are made in Germany.
When asked about the delay in Germany giving permission for the transfer, Morawiecki said Poland had offered Ukraine 14 tanks.
“At the same time, we must ensure that others will also meet these needs. Among these others, the ones that 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 push the chancellor’s office and Germany to respond to our proposal as soon as possible.”
New defense minister: Morawiecki was also asked whether he expected a change after Boris Pistorius, who has called for the easing of sanctions against Russia, took over as Germany’s defense minister.
“This worries me a lot. I don’t know much about Germany’s new Defense Minister. What I do know gives me some anxiety,” said Morawiecki.
But Pistorius should be given “a few days time” to see “what his first steps will be,” added Morawiecki.
We agreed that we would hand over the tanks together,” he said. “Consent is secondary. Either we will obtain this consent, or we will do the right thing ourselves.”
“The most important thing is for the Germans, Danes, Finns, French and other nations to offer their modern tanks and heavy equipment as soon as possible,” said Morawiecki. “The ability to defend freedom in Ukraine, and thus 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 who have offered the Leopard tanks and we are now encouraging and inspiring others, in particular the Germans, to give their part,” he said.
“Now, the Leopard tanks is the next round of our support for Ukraine. Critically important point is, will Germans finally, finally give their part of heavy artillery, in particular heavy and modern tanks,” said Morawiecki.
“And this is the major question, because 14 tanks on top of 250, is not the game changer, but if France and in particular Germany and some other countries gave 20-30 tanks each, then it could make a difference for Ukraine,” he added.
Some context: There is growing pressure for Western allies to provide Ukraine with heavy battle tanks.
France, Poland and the United Kingdom have pledged to soon send tanks for the Ukrainian military to use in its efforts to protect itself from Russia. Finland is considering following suit.
Germany has said it would transfer infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv but is yet to commit to sending tanks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has insisted that any such plan would need to be fully coordinated with the whole of the Western alliance, including the United States.
The Western allies are set to meet tomorrow at the US Ramstein air base in Germany to discuss further military aid for Kyiv.