Following news that Poland is sending more Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Germany has responded that it will send an additional four Leopard tanks as well while also criticizing the condition of the Polish Leopard tanks being sent.
According to Andrzej Wilk, a Polish analyst at the Center for Eastern Studies (OSW), the Leopard tank story demonstrates how Germany is trying to compensate for its lackluster support for Ukraine, especially in comparison to Poland. For some weeks, the German media and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius have been asserting that Germany is the most engaged country in helping Ukraine and playing down Poland’s role by pointing to the fact that Poland’s Leopard 2 A4 tanks being delivered to Ukraine are older and in a poorer state than the newer German Leopard 2 A6 tanks.
However, it was only In the aftermath of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s visit to Kyiv to hand over the first four of its Leopard 2 tanks that Pistorius made the decision to give four more Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
According to Wilk, the German Defense Ministry, along with the military and defense industry, is not in a good place and always behind the curve on delivery.
Wilk said the German defense minister’s claim that Poland’s tanks are old and in need of repair is not true. He added that he feels that Germany is hurting not only over the fact that Poland’s warnings on Russia proved correct but also because Poland has shown itself to be better organized.
The international optics of the war undoubtedly favor Poland, as the country is arguably Ukraine’s most devoted partner in its efforts to drive out Russia. Ukraine, in turn, has heaped praise on Poland. On Feb. 24, the anniversary of the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appeared at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and announced not only the delivery of the Leopard tanks but also the imminent delivery of PT-91 tanks from Poland.
In addition, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal personally thanked the Polish prime minister for the handover of the tanks while Morawiecki recorded the event on Twitter.
Morawiecki underlined that Poland was the first European state to provide Leopards tanks, and he urged all EU and NATO partners to follow suit. In response, President Zelensky thanked the Polish prime minister and said that “Poland is one of Ukraine’s most important allies.”
Responding to Friday’s events, Pistorius made the decision to hand over four more Leopard 2 tanks from Germany’s reserves. At the same time, three tanks are to come from Portugal and nine from Sweden. Altogether, Ukraine will now reach the 31 tanks required to create a tanks regiment.
In an interview for Der Spiegel, Pistorius expressed surprise that during NATO’s meeting of defense ministers that took place at Ramstein Air Base in January, Poland was the only country willing to declare that it would definitely deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Pistorius expected that there would be more European states ready to take that step.
Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Paweł Jabłoński, said that Poland has tried to deliver the tanks as soon as possible to encourage other states to act swiftly.
“When Poland declares something, it keeps its word,” said Jabłoński.