Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said Warsaw can send Kiev Leopard 2 tanks without permission from Germany.
“We will ask for such permission, but this is a matter of secondary importance,” Morawiecki said. “Even if we didn’t get this approval, we would still transfer our tanks to Ukraine with others.”
“Even if Germany is not in this coalition, we will hand over our tanks, along with the others, to Ukraine.”
Morawiecki said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s statement on Sunday that Berlin would not hinder Polish efforts to send German-made tanks to Ukraine represented a “glitter of hope” that Germany would join the coalition of countries willing to send tanks to Ukraine.
“We are constantly pressuring the government in Berlin to make their leopards available,” the Polish prime minister said. He added that Germany “has more than 350 active leopards and about 200 in storage”.
Here are other updates on the war in Ukraine on Monday, January 23:
German MP says battle tank decision needs more time
Speaking to DW on Monday, Ralf Stegner, a member of the German Bundestag, said Germany’s hesitation to send battle tanks to Ukraine is not based on an “implicit” refusal to do so, stressing that the government is taking its time to agree on the details. in cooperation with Germany’s allies.
“It’s not Germany that’s on the brakes, it’s different countries with different opinions,” said Stegner, who is a member of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
“If you compare the government of Poland, for example, or what the government of France says, there are different sides to that,” he said, adding that supplying main battle tanks is a “very difficult decision”.
“We want to make those decisions together with our allies, not as a loan decision from Germany,” he added.
Stegner also agreed with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s public statements on Sunday, in which she said Germany would not stand in Poland’s way if it sent its German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
He explained that while it’s not “surprising” that Germany doesn’t want to get in the way of other countries supplying tanks, “it’s just not common practice to communicate issues like this” without following procedure.
“I don’t know why the foreign minister said anything publicly,” he said.
The lawmaker said such decisions are made in a “confidential meeting of a relevant special committee, after which the results are made public”.
EU foreign ministers approve a €500 million aid package
EU foreign ministers have agreed another €500 million ($545 million) tranche of military aid to Ukraine.
The amount earmarked from the EU budget for the Ukrainian army has risen to EUR 3.6 billion. This amount is independent of the national expenditure of individual Member States.
In total, European countries have pledged more than 11 billion euros in weapons for Ukraine.
Ministers are also expected to discuss how Russian assets frozen under sanctions could be used to help fund reconstruction in Ukraine. This includes €300 billion in Russian central bank reserves.
British business newspaper Financial times reported on Monday that European Council President Charles Michel urged the bloc to continue talks on the measure.
Michel wants to explore the idea of managing the frozen assets of the Russian central bank to generate profits, which would then be used for reconstruction, the Financial times reported him as said.
Kiev says it needs “several hundred” tanks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff has said Ukraine needs “several hundred” tanks to push back Russian troops amid Berlin’s hesitation over Leopard 2 deliveries.
“We need tanks – not 10-20, but several hundred,” Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram. “Our goal is [restoring] the 1991 borders and punishing the enemy, who will pay for their crimes.”
Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia took over the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and claimed to have annexed parts of southern and eastern Ukraine in September 2022.
Berlin follows ‘tried and tested procedures’ for tank requests – spokesperson
German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Berlin will follow “tried and tested procedures” when considering requests to supply tanks to Kiev.
“I would perhaps put it this way: if such a request were to be made in Germany, which is not the case at the moment, then there are well-established procedures for complying with such a request. And we all abide by that.” ” he said.
“We have passionate debates and these passions occasionally lead to exaggerations on all sides,” he said, referring to the debate surrounding tank deliveries.
Former Wagner commander in Norway will not be expelled – lawyer
Andrei Medvedev, a former commander of the Wagner mercenary group who fled to Norway, is not at risk of deportation, according to his lawyer.
“The risk of him being deported? It’s zero,” Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer Brynjulf Risnes told Reuters news agency.
Risnes said Medvedev had been detained because there was “disagreement” between Medvedev and police over measures taken to ensure his safety.
Earlier on Monday, the Gulagu.net rights group said Medvedev had been detained and handcuffed on Sunday night and told he would be deported.
The former commander feared for his life after witnessing the murder of Russian deserters brought to Ukraine by the Wagner Group. He claimed that his four-month contract had been repeatedly extended without his consent.
“We do not condone Medvedev. He has done many bad things in his life,” said Gulagu.net. “But he has seen the light, he has realized this, he is ready and willing to cooperate with the world, with the international investigation and with the authorities of Norway. He wants to live and bear witness.” [against Wagner].”
Russia and Estonia are deteriorating diplomatic relations over tensions in Ukraine
Moscow has said it is deteriorating diplomatic relations with Estonia and has ordered its ambassador to leave, to which Tallinn responds in kind.
Estonia has strongly advocated that Germany supply Leopard main battle tanks to Kiev.
Russia’s foreign ministry said it had told Estonia’s envoy to leave next month. Both countries will be represented in each other’s capitals by a temporary chargé d’affaires instead of an ambassador, the ministry said.
Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said Tallinn had ordered the Russian ambassador to leave by February 7.
“We will continue to support Ukraine as Russia plans large-scale attacks, and we call on other like-minded countries to step up their aid to Ukraine,” Reinsalu said.
“In recent years, the Estonian leadership has deliberately destroyed all relations with Russia,” a statement from the Russian foreign ministry said. “Total Russophobia, cultivating hostility towards our country has been elevated by Tallinn to the rank of state policy.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “The Estonian regime got what it deserved” by cutting ties.
Russian intelligence accuses Kiev of storing weapons in nuclear power plants
Russia’s foreign intelligence agency SVR has accused Ukraine of storing Western-supplied weapons in nuclear power plants.
The Reuters news agency said it could not verify the claims.
“The Ukrainian armed forces store weapons and ammunition supplied by the West on the territory of nuclear power plants,” the SVR said in a statement.
Russia: No date set for START talks with US
Moscow has said no date has been set for talks with the United States over the New START treaty, which aims to limit the number of nuclear warheads in the two countries.
“Frankly, the situation does not allow setting a new date, taking into account this escalation trend in both the rhetoric and actions of the United States,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told state news agency Interfax.
In November, Russia said it had “no choice” but to break off talks with the US on inspections under the New START treaty. The agreement expires in February 2026.
Zelensky promises action after corruption scandal
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has promised that “strong steps” will be taken to crack down on alleged corruption in Kiev.
“Society will receive full information and the state will take the necessary strong steps,” the Ukrainian head of state said.
“I don’t want to announce [the steps] now, but it will all be fair,” he said. “I want this to be clear: there will be no return to what used to be.”
Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vasyl Losynskii was detained earlier this week by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. He is accused of taking bribes for the purchase of power generators. Zelenskyy said Losynskii has since been released.
Ukraine’s president also addressed media reports that officials have enriched themselves while selling overpriced food to soldiers.
Zelenskyy, who heads the Servant of the People party, was elected in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform.
More DW coverage of the war in Ukraine
DW examines how Russian state media portray Germany and its leadership.
A number of German politicians have criticized Berlin’s reluctance to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev.
sdi/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)
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