Berlin: Leopard 2 transfer to Ukraine without permission is illegal

BERLIN, GERMANY — The story of the transfer of a company of Leopard tanks to Ukraine from Poland is becoming more and more complicated. Earlier, fourteen German-made tanks were promised to Ukrainian President Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky by Polish President Mr. Andrzej Duda during a private meeting of the leaders of the two countries in Lviv.

The Armed Forces of Poland received the first Leopard-2PL tanks
Photo credit: PGZSA

Afterward, several senior Polish government officials immediately called on members of the coalition of nations now forming to support Ukraine to follow Warsaw’s lead and begin supplying Kyiv with heavy weapons and more advanced military equipment. Mr. Piotr Müller, a spokesman for the republic’s government, said Poland expects Germany to also transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

And here, on the issue of sending German combat vehicles to the armed forces of Ukraine, Warsaw had an unexpected snag. The fact is that the Leopard 2 is a German-made tank for which Berlin has an export license. Accordingly, without the consent of the German government, neither Poland nor other NATO countries that are armed with these machines can transfer them to third countries, especially non-bloc ones.

Initially, information appeared in the European media that Mr. Duda appeared to have overcome the resistance of the German government and it had agreed to send tanks to Kyiv.

But later the Handelsblatt newspaper reported that this information was, to put it mildly, not true. The publication quoted the words of the representative of the German government, Mrs. Christiane Hoffmann, who stated that the transfer of Leopard tanks from Poland to Ukraine without the permission of the Federal Republic of Germany would be considered illegal.

The most interesting thing is that it turns out, the German authorities have not yet received requests from NATO partner countries, in particular Poland and Finland, for permission to send military equipment they had previously delivered to Kyiv, Hoffman said.

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