Kyiv allies to use tanks without German consent

A German Leopard 2 tank

A German Leopard 2 tank during a NATO exercise (Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Poland’s Prime Minister has announced plans to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, whether Berlin agrees or not.

Mateusz Morawiecki said he will seek permission to re-export them to his country’s neighboring countries.

But he added: “Even if we didn’t get this permit, we would transfer our tanks to Ukraine along with others.” The condition for us at the moment is to form at least a small coalition of countries.’

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said she will not prevent Poland from sending its Leopards to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion.

But she declined to elaborate yesterday, saying only that it was important “to do everything we can to defend Ukraine”.

Germany has laws that require buyers of its tanks to obtain re-export permits. It has yet to send any directly to Ukraine and was under pressure not to stand in the way of other countries as EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss an extra £440m in aid to Kyiv.

Ukraine and Russia are reportedly planning spring offensives to break the deadlock in the war.

German leader Olaf Scholz’s party has argued that the West should avoid escalating the war, but allies believe Russia is intent on its attack. Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said “there are no good arguments” about not providing tanks.

The UK has announced it will deliver 14 Challenger 2s and French President Emmanuel Macron has not ruled out sending Leclerc tanks. The Kremlin said the splits showed increasing “nervousness” within NATO.

“Put-ler” posters welcome Lavrov to South Africa

Protest against Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to South Africa in Pretoria

Ukrainians protest against Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Pretoria (Image: Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was greeted by protesters as he embarked on a controversial trip to South Africa.

Posters depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler were waved as Lavrov visited his counterpart Naledi Pandor in Pretoria.

The minister hopes to strengthen ties with the African nation, which has remained neutral on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He reiterated disputed claims that the West blocked peace talks soon after
war began. Russia refuses to withdraw its troops as a condition of negotiations.

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Justin Scacco

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