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Three German-made Leopard 2 tanks
Germany has said it wants to consult its allies on sending advanced battle tanks to UkraineImage: Philipp Schulze/dpa/picture-alliance

Germany will not keep Poland from sending tanks to Ukraine

January 22, 2023

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin would not stand in the way if Poland decides to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron did not rule out sending heavy tanks to Ukraine.

Germany would not stand in the way if Poland sent its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday in an interview with French television LCI.

If Poland were to go ahead and sent its Leopard 2 tanks without German approval, Baerbock said, "If we were asked we would not stand in the way."

"We know how important these tanks are and this is why we are discussing this now with our partners," the German foreign minister added. "We need to make sure people's lives are saved and Ukraine's territory liberated."

Earlier Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reaffirmed that Berlin and Paris would support Ukraine in its fight against Russian occupation, and would not allow Europe to revert back to "hatred and national rivalries."

"We will continue to provide Ukraine with all the support its needs for as long as necessary. Together, as Europeans, to defend our European peace project," he said while on a visit to Paris to celebrate 60 years of the landmark Franco-German Elysee Treaty.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Sunday that he expected a decision soon on the delivery of the tanks to Ukraine.

Pistorius told Germany's ARD public television that Berlin would not make a hasty decision because there were many factors to consider, including consequences at home for the security of the German population.

Germany has been under considerable pressure both to deliver Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine and to allow other countries to send their German-made tanks to Ukrainian forces. But Berlin has been hesitant to send the highly advanced, Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine out of concern it could lead to a widening of the Russian war in Ukraine.

Poland has repeatedly slammed Berlin over its hesitant stance.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the national Polish PAP news agency, "Germany's attitude is unacceptable. It has been almost a year since the war began. Innocent people are dying every day." 

"Russian bombs are wreaking havoc in Ukrainian cities. Civilian targets are being attacked, women and children are being murdered," he added.

No deal on tanks, but hope remains


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Here are other updates on the war in Ukraine on Sunday, January 22:

Macron doesn't rule out delivering French heavy tanks to Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country was still studying the decision to deliver French-mad Leclerc heavy tanks to Ukraine. 

Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday, Macron said he had asked the Defense Ministry to work on it, stressing that "nothing is excluded."

However, the French president stressed that dispatching any hardware to Ukraine to push Russian forces away should be "collectively" decided and coordinated with allies, Germany included.

Macron also said that deploying the heavy tanks to Ukraine must not weaken France's own defense capabilities or escalate the conflict.

Germany has been under immense pressure lately to deliver battle tanks to Ukraine. Berlin has been hesitant to send the highly advanced, German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine or allow other nations to transfer them. 

On Sunday, Scholz reiterated Berlin's stance on the matter, stressing that his country had always acted in close coordination with its allies.

Zelenskyy vows to tackle corruption

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenkskyy said he would make key decisions on tackling corruption in the upcoming week, as reports about senior-level corruption emerged this week.

In his nightly address, the Ukrainian leader said, "I want this to be clear: there will be no return to what used to be in the past, to the way various people close to state institutions or those who spend their entire lives chasing a chair used to live."

Ukraine has a history of government corruption, and was ranked the second most corrupt country in Europe in 2021, according to Transperancy International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Ukraine ranked 122nd out of 180 countries, while Russia ranked 136th, according to the index.

Germany's new defense minister planning to visit Ukraine

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he was "certain" that he would travel to Ukraine soon. "Probably even within the next four weeks," he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Pistorius, who took office on Thursday after his predecessor Christine Lambrecht resigned, said his ministry was looking into how to be best prepared for any possible decisions on the matter.

"We are in very close dialogue with our international partners, first and foremost with the US, on this issue." 

German government's hot seat: The defense ministry

Boris Pistorius is set to be Germany's new defense minister. Who were his predecessors?

Image: Mohssen Assanimoghaddam/dpa/picture alliance

Boris Pistorius (SPD) 2023 -

Boris Pistorius' appointment — reported by several media on Tuesday — came as a surprise to most political pundits. He is a trained lawyer and has been serving as minister for the interior in the northern state of Lower Saxony since 2013.

Image: Droese/localpic/IMAGO

Christine Lambrecht (SPD) 2021-2023

Lambrecht's yearlong tenure was a succession of minor scandals and unfortunate statements. She had to take much of the criticism for the German government's hesitation to send heavy weaponry to Ukraine. Her gaffes included taking her adult son on an official trip in a military helicopter, and a New Year's message about the war in Ukraine almost drowned out by fireworks exploding in the background.

Image: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) 2019 - 2021

In 2020, Kramp-Karrenbauer disbanded a company of the Special Forces Command (KSK) after police seized weapons and ammunition during a raid on the property of a KSK soldier linked to far-right networks. During her time as defense minister, Kramp-Karrenbauer apologized to soldiers who for decades faced discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Image: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) 2013 - 2019

Ursula von der Leyen's tenure is often linked to an overhaul in personnel, materiel and finances to modernize the Bundeswehr, and to the "Agenda Attractiveness." During von der Leyen's term, the Bundeswehr began its fight against the "Islamic State" (IS ). In addition, a new military organizational area was set up to tackle cyberwarfare.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. I. Bänsch

Thomas de Maizière (CDU) 2011- 2013

Thomas de Maizière shaped the Bundeswehr after the suspension of compulsory military service. In 2011, he unveiled plans to reduce troop numbers, cut bureaucracy and eliminate inefficiency in the Federal Ministry of Defense, turning the army into a wholly professional force. An ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, he moved on to become interior minister.

Image: Reuters

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) 2009 - 2011

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was the youngest-ever German defense minister. He had to deal with the aftermath of a deadly airstrike in Kunduz but was cleared of being responsible for the Defense Ministry's inadequate communications policy on the incident. He oversaw the suspension of compulsory military service in 2011, but resigned after he was found to have plagiarized part of his doctoral thesis.

Image: picture alliance/dpa

Franz Josef Jung (CDU) 2005-2009

Jung rejected US demands that Germany participate in heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan and opted for the deployment of a rapid reaction force in northern Afghanistan instead. Jung later took political responsibility for the airstrikes in Kunduz, when a US fighter jet responded to a call by German forces, struck two fuel tankers captured by Taliban insurgents and killed over 90 civilians.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Peter Struck (SPD) 2002 - 2005

In his attempt to justify Germany's mission in Afghanistan, Peter Struck coined the much-quoted phrase "Germany will also be defended in the Hindu Kush." He oversaw the revamp of the Bundeswehr to become a nimbler fighting force capable of responding to smaller, regional conflicts. Struck announced in 2003 that Germany would reduce its military by more than 10% by 2010, leaving 250,000 troops.

Image: Kurt Vinion/Getty Images

Rudolf Scharping (SPD) 1998 - 2002

Under Rudolf Scharping, the Bundeswehr participated in NATO air strikes against Serbia, the first time German soldiers had operated outside Germany since World War II. In 2001, Scharping was criticized publicly by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he was found to be the source of a report that the United States would intervene in Somalia as part of their campaign against terrorism.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Volker Rühe (CDU) 1992 - 1998

Under former English teacher Volker Rühe, the Bundeswehr gradually began its foreign missions outside NATO territory. By supporting the United Nations missions in Cambodia, Somalia and the Balkans, the armed forces gained their first experience of foreign deployment.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Gerhard Stoltenberg (CDU) 1989 - 1992

Gerhard Stoltenberg, a former finance minister, headed the West German Defense Ministry at the time of reunification and assumed command and control of the all-German armed forces on October 3, 1990. The East German army, the Nationale Volksarmee, merged with the Bundeswehr, thereby leaving the eastern defense alliance "Warsaw Treaty" to join NATO instead.

Image: Sepp Spiegl/IMAGO

Rupert Scholz (CDU) 1988 - 1989

Rupert Scholz continued the policy of détente between the two military blocs just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle in 1989 but later made headlines when he stated in 2007 that he felt Germany should strive to become a nuclear power.

Image: Sven Simon/United Archives/IMAGO

Manfred Wörner (CDU) 1982 - 1988

A former fighter pilot, Wörner later went on to become NATO's secretary-general. In 1983, Wörner faced criticism due to the scandal surrounding German General Günter Kiessling, who the military secret service falsely accused of being gay. Wörner ordered Kiessling's early retirement, as homosexuality was considered a security risk at the time.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Hans Apel (SPD) 1978 - 1982

Hans Apel (l) was the first West German defense minister not to have served in the army. During his tenure, NATO's Double-Track Decision was made, offering the Warsaw Pact a mutual limitation of ballistic missiles in 1979. It was combined with a threat by NATO to deploy more medium-range nuclear weapons in Western Europe.

Image: dapd

Georg Leber (SPD) 1972 - 1978

Georg Leber served in the Luftwaffe during World War II. The trade union leader was held in high esteem by the Bundeswehr rank and file. He oversaw an enlargement of the Bundeswehr and the creation of Bundeswehr universities in Munich and Hamburg. Leber stepped down after taking responsibility for a case of East German espionage in his ministry.

Image: Egon Steiner/dpa/picture alliance

Helmut Schmidt (SPD) 1969 - 1972

Helmut Schmidt, an officer in World War II, former mayor of Hamburg, and later Ffinance minister and chancellor of Germany, was the first member of the center-left Social Democrats to become defense minister. During his term, the service time for military conscripts was reduced from 15 to eight months.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Gerhard Schröder (CDU) 1966 - 1969

Gerhard Schröder had been first interior and then foreign minister before he took over the Defense Ministry under Chancellor Kurt-Georg Kiesinger. In 1969, he ran for the office of German president, supported by CDU and the far-right NPD, but was narrowly beaten by center-left candidate Gustav Heinemann.

Image: Kurt Rohwedder/dpa/picture alliance

Kai-Uwe von Hassel (CDU) 1963 - 1966

Early on, the Bundeswehr engaged in many civilian missions such as rescue missions during flood disasters and earthquakes. Its humanitarian missions began as early as the mid-1960s under Kai-Uwe von Hassel, who oversaw the expansion and gradual consolidation of the West German armed forces.

Image: Fritz Fischer/dpa/picture alliance

Franz-Josef Strauss (CSU) 1956 - 1963

The conservative from Bavaria held various government posts between 1953 and 1969. He was charged with the build-up of the new West German defence forces, the Bundeswehr, but in 1961, he and his party, the CSU, were suspected of taking bribes from US fighter jet maker Lockheed for arranging West Germany's purchase of 900 F-104G Starfighters. Strauss and the CSU denied the allegations.

Image: picture-alliance/F. Leonhardt

Theodor Blank (CDU) 1955 - 1956

Theodor Blank, born as the third of 10 children of a carpenter, was conscripted to the Wehrmacht when World War II broke out in 1939 and rose to become a first lieutenant. The staunch Catholic became one of the founders of the CDU in 1945. Following on from his short tenure as defense minister, he served as minister of labor and social affairs from 1957 to 1965.

Image: akg-images/picture alliance
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Putin ally warns against supplying Ukraine with offensive arms

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, warned that the West delivering offensive weapons to Ukraine would lead the world to a "terrible war."

"If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons," Volodin said on the Telegram messaging app.

"Deliveries of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe," he said.

The head of the State Duma said Moscow considered attacks on the Ukrainian territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, which Russia annexed and occupied, as an attack on its territory. 

War prompted 'new revival' of unity, says Zelenskyy 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was confident of victory as he marked the Day of Ukrainian Unity. Ukrainians celebrate the 1919 unification between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic on January 22.

Zelenskyy said in an emotional video that Russia's invasion of Ukraine led to a "new revival of our Ukrainian unity" as millions of Ukrainians stood together to defend the country. 

"Each region protects the other," he said. "And all of us together are defending Kyiv. And all of us together defend Kharkiv. And all of us together are liberating Kherson." 

UK intelligence: Russia struggling to expand army

The British Ministry of Defence said in its regular intelligence update that Russia was likely struggling to find the material and staff it needed after Moscow announced plans to expand its armed forces. 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently announced measures to expand the military, including increasing troop numbers from 1.15 million to 1.5 million.

"Shoigu's plans signal that the Russian leadership highly likely assesses that an enhanced conventional military threat will endure for many years beyond the current Ukraine war," the British report said.  

"However, Russia will highly likely struggle to staff and equip the planned expansion." 

The British ministry has released daily intelligence reports on the war since Russia launched the war in Ukraine last year. Russia accused the UK of a disinformation campaign.

Norway estimates over 300,000 casualties

Norwegian Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen said around 180,000 Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured in the war in Ukraine.

"Russian losses are beginning to approach around 180,000 dead or wounded soldiers," he said in an interview with TV2, without specifying how the numbers were calculated. 

"Ukrainian losses are probably over 100,000 dead or wounded. In addition, Ukraine has about 30,000 civilians who died in this terrible war," Kristoffersen said. 

It's the highest estimate after General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, in November said the Russian army had suffered more than 100,000 dead or wounded, with a "probably" similar toll on the Ukrainian side.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine released their casualty numbers in months, and none of the figures can be independently verified. 

Kristoffersen warned, however, "Russia is able to continue [this war] for quite a long time," citing Moscow's mobilization and arms production capacities.  

More DW coverage on the war in Ukraine

A new investigation by a German newspaper said Bulgaria's former government quietly supplied Ukraine with weapons soon after Russia invaded last year. DW looks into the news about the secret weapons supplies and what it means for Bulgaria.  

Russia's attacks on Ukraine's energy grid has forced many cities to roll out power cuts to save energy. Kyiv residents speak about the serious consequences for people out on the streets.

Ukraine: Kiev is dangerous after dark


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fb/dj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)  

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