Poland’s president said Wednesday that Warsaw has decided to send Ukraine a company of German-made Leopard 2 tanks as part of an “international coalition,” although it’s not yet clear if Berlin has signed off on the delivery.
“A company of Leopard tanks will be handed over as part of coalition-building,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said during a visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. “We want it to be an international coalition.”
Supplying the Leopards would mark the first time Western-made heavy tanks were sent to Ukraine. The delivery needs to be approved by Germany, but according to Reuters, a German government spokesman said Berlin hasn’t yet received any requests from allies to send the tanks.
Duda made the comments alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said Ukraine is “awaiting a joint decision” because “one country cannot provide us with a sufficient number of them.”
Ukrainian officials have said they need 300 tanks, and Poland’s pledge to send a company, which typically consists of 14 tanks, falls far short. Duda said more countries need to be willing to do the same.
“We have taken the decision to contribute a first package of tanks, a company of Leopard tanks, which, I hope, together with other companies of Leopard and other tanks that will be offered by other countries will …. be able to strengthen Ukraine’s defense,” he said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has previously ruled out the idea of sending the Leopard 2, but his government has shown a willingness to escalate its support for Kyiv. When explaining his opposition to sending the tanks in September, Scholz said he was trying to prevent a direct clash between Russia and NATO.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba believes Kyiv will ultimately receive the German-made tanks and criticized Scholz’s government for being hesitant. “It’s always a similar pattern: First they say ‘no,’ then they fiercely defend their decision, only to say ‘yes’ in the end. We are still trying to understand why the German government is doing this to itself,” he said.
Britain is discussing sending its main battle tank to Ukraine, the Challenger 2, and Ukrainian officials hope that would inspire Germany to do the same. But German officials told POLITICO that it would have little impact on their decision-making and said they would ultimately follow the lead of the US.