German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Jan. 12 that Berlin “should not stand in the way” of Poland's decision to supply German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
“There is a difference between making a decision for yourself and preventing others from making a decision,” Habeck said, as quoted by German newspaper Die Welt. "Accordingly, Germany should not stand in the way when other countries make decisions to support Ukraine, regardless of what decision Germany makes."
Polish President Andrzej Duda announced the delivery of a company of modern German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on Jan. 11.
Since the tanks are produced in Germany, the approval of the German government is required for their export.
The lack of broader coordination among European partners has been consistently presented by Germany as the reason for not taking the lead with delivering Leopards.
On Jan 10, Politico reported that France was putting increasing pressure on Berlin to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine ahead of a Franco-German summit on Jan. 22.
Poland also exerted pressure on Germany by publicly calling for a broad coalition among Western allies to hand over Leopards.
On Jan. 9, a German government spokesman said the country had no plans to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks.
The statement came a day after Habeck told ARD that the possibility of delivering the tanks “cannot be ruled out.”
Ukraine has repeatedly requested to be provided with German-made Leopard 2 tanks operated by several European countries, including Germany, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Poland currently operates around 249 Leopard 2 tanks.
These vehicles were acquired over the 2000s as a replacement for the country's Soviet-era t-72 tanks, of which over 230 have already been sent to Ukraine.