PARIS — Germany “would not stand in the way” if Poland or other allies asked for permission to send their German-built Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday.
The remarks by the Green politician, who was interviewed by French TV LCI on the sidelines of a Franco-German summit in Paris, came in response to comments by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who has raised pressure on Berlin in recent days by saying that Poland is willing to supply Kyiv with Leopard tanks, which would require German approval.
Morawiecki even suggested that Warsaw was ready to send those tanks without Berlin’s consent.
Baerbock, however, stressed that “we have not been asked so far” by Poland for such permission. “If we were asked, we would not stand in the way,” she added.
German officials have gotten increasingly frustrated in recent days by what they perceive as a “media blame-game” by Poland, as Warsaw has repeatedly suggested that Germany was hampering plans to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, although it appears that the necessary request for export permission has not been made yet.
Germany is, however, still dragging its feet when it comes to the bigger question of whether it would be willing to send its own Leopard tanks to Ukraine, for example as part of a broader coalition with Poland and other countries like Finland and Denmark.
Pressed on that point during a press conference in Paris on Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz avoided giving a clear answer, stressing instead that Berlin had never ceased supporting Ukraine with weapons deliveries and took its decisions in cooperation with its allies.
Poland’s Morawiecki said on Sunday that his country was ready to build a “smaller coalition” for sending tanks to Ukraine without Germany.
Baerbock’s comments are therefore also raising the pressure on Scholz to take a clearer position on the tank issue — at least when it comes to granting export permissions to other countries.
After Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, also from the Greens, said earlier that Germany “should not stand in the way” of permitting such deliveries, the foreign minister’s even more definitive statement makes it even harder for Scholz to take a different position.
Ukraine has been appealing to Germany and other Western nations to supply modern Western-made battle tanks in order to fend off an expected Russian spring offensive.