WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s prime minister said Monday that he wants the German government to supply a wide range of weapons to Kyiv and voiced hope that Germany would soon approve a transfer of battle tanks to strengthen Ukraine’s defense against Russian forces in the war.
The comments by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki came as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz faces mounting pressure to approve German-made battle tanks for Kyiv.
Germany’s government has given Ukraine substantial military aid since Russia invaded, but has also faced criticism, including from inside Germany’s governing coalition, that it could be doing far more.
Morawiecki said that he believed that the German government would respond to growing international pressure to provide battle tanks to Ukraine as Russia carries out relentless attacks on civilians, apartment buildings and power infrastructure.
“I can’t imagine that Germany would make us wait long for such an agreement,” Morawiecki said as he was departing for Germany.
He noted that Germany promised a Patriot air defense system after pressure, including from Warsaw.
Poland’s president said recently that his country wants to send a company of German-made Leopard 2 tanks, meaning 14 tanks, to Ukraine, but wanted that transfer to be part of a coordinated effort by NATO allies. That public statement by President Andrzej Duda in Lviv, Ukraine, was seen as part of the growing international pressure on Germany to better arm Ukraine.
Under common arms sales rules, the German government would need to give its approval for Poland and any other countries to provide the German-made tanks to a third country.
The German government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said Monday that Poland hasn’t asked Germany yet whether it can ship its own Leopards to Ukraine.
In Berlin, Morawiecki argued that the West must do much more for Ukraine, because “today Ukrainians are fighting not only for their freedom, but also in defense of Europe.”
“I call on the German government to act decisively and deliver all types of weapons to Ukraine,” Morawiecki said, according to statements reported by the Polish state news agency PAP. He was in Berlin to honor Wolfgang Schäuble, the conservative politician who was marking 50 years in the Bundestag.
The Polish leaders visit came as German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced her resignation on Monday.
Lambrecht was overseeing a ministry seeking to modernize the military and expand military aid for Ukraine.
Poland is also waiting for a delivery of German Patriot systems, something Berlin offered after a stray missile fell in Poland near the Ukraine border in November and killed two Poles.
The German press agency dpa reported that the deployment of the Patriot systems and German soldiers would begin on Monday.
At one point, Polish officials said that Germany should send its Patriots to Ukraine instead of Poland, creating some tensions between the two governments before Warsaw finally said it would accept them.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
The Associated Press