Polish PM lauds German decision to send Leopards to Ukraine

Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish prime minister, has praised Germany's decision to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine to help bolster the country’s defence against Russia.

After months of reluctance, the German government on Wednesday announced it will deliver Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

Reacting to the news, Morawiecki took to Twitter to thank German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the decision.

"The decision to send Leopards to Ukraine is a big step towards stopping Russia. Together we are stronger," his Twitter post read.

In the first stage, Germany wants to supply Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks from the Bundeswehr's stocks, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement on Wednesday.

Berlin will also issue appropriate permits to partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard 2 tanks from their inventories to Ukraine, according to the statement.

On Wednesday, the Polish foreign ministry said that the Polish and Ukrainian foreign ministers, Zbigniew Rau and Dmytro Kuleba, had discussed further military aid for Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia in a telephone conversation.

Reporting on the talks on Twitter, Kuleba said he thanked Poland for the donation of its Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian army. Kuleba stressed that the Polish initiative enhanced the formation of an international coalition of countries willing to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian foreign minister also said his country will now strive to obtain western fighter aircraft, and move for the further sanctioning of Russia.

On January 11, in the Ukrainian city Lviv, Poland's President Andrzej Duda announced that Poland will give Ukraine a company of its Leopard 2 tanks (10-14 machines). Duda also suggested the formation of a coalition of states ready to donate Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Since then, Warsaw had been trying to convince Germany, which holds the export licence for the Leopards, to allow other countries, including Poland, to dispatch their tanks to Ukraine.