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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.

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 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

01:42

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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." 

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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