Poland warned yesterday that it was ready to send German Leopard tanks to Ukraine even if Berlin had not agreed “yet” to that, at a time when Kyiv was in high demand for these armored vehicles to confront the Russian forces, which confirmed, for their part, small field gains.
In this context, the European Union decided yesterday to allocate an additional 500 million euros to arm Ukraine and another 45 million euros to train Ukrainian military units in EU member states, according to diplomatic sources.
For its part, the German government seems divided over the delivery of heavy tanks to Kyiv.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is still hesitant in making a decision in this regard, is facing increasing pressure, especially after German Foreign Minister Analina Birbock expressed her country’s readiness to allow Warsaw to send these armored vehicles to Kyiv, despite Schulz’s refrain from commenting on the matter.
Under German law, every country that owns German weapons must seek permission from Berlin before sending them to countries outside the European Union.
And yesterday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters, “We will ask for this approval, but this issue is secondary,” adding, “If we do not obtain the consent of (the Germans), we will provide Ukraine with our tanks within the framework of a small alliance, even if Germany is not joining it.”
And Poland, which announced its willingness to hand over 14 tanks of this type to Kyiv, indicated that it is in discussions with about 15 countries in this regard.
According to estimates by the Polish prime minister, Germany has “more than 350 Leopard tanks in operation” and about 200 “in stock”.
European armies have several Leopard tanks, which is a great advantage because it can facilitate access to ammunition and spare parts and simplify maintenance.
Ahead of the Polish announcement, Ukraine’s presidential chief Andriy Yermak said on Telegram that “we need tanks – not 10 and 20, but hundreds of them.”
“Today, every tank capable of fighting must be present on our front. Because this front is not only the front of Ukraine. It is a battlefield where civilization faces the swamps of backwardness and barbarism,” he added.
On the ground, Russian artillery strikes yesterday killed one civilian in the village of Antonivka, located in the southern Kherson region, according to its governor, Yaroslav Yanuchevych.-
And Sunday, Vladimir Rogov, one of the leaders of the occupation authorities in the Zaporizhia region in southern Ukraine, said that the Russian army is advancing towards two towns in the region, where clashes with Kyiv forces intensified this week.--
The pro-Russian separatist leader in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushlin, appeared in the city of Solidar, which Moscow declared control of more than a week ago, but Kyiv has so far denied that it has fallen into the hands of the Russians.
In a statement he made to Russian television yesterday, the day after his visit to Solidar, Pushlin confirmed that “the city is destroyed” and that “almost no building remains.”
According to the Russian army, the seizure of Solidar paves the way for encircling the neighboring city of Bakhmut, which Moscow has sought to control since the summer and is witnessing fierce battles between the two sides.
Pushlin confirmed that the battles are “intensifying” there and the Russian forces are “advancing,” noting that units of the Wagner Armed Group are now controlling the nearby strategic heights.
Ukraine has not yet officially acknowledged the fall of Solidar, noting that its forces continue to fight in the western part of the city.
And the General Staff of the Ukrainian army indicated yesterday evening that “the enemy continues its offensive in the sectors of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, with the aim of seizing the entire Donetsk region, despite the heavy losses.”
Pro-Russian separatists also announced that they had captured the nearby villages of Krasnopolivka and Dvorechye.
For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday that the conflict between Moscow and the West is closer to a real war, criticizing the West for sending billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Kyiv.
Lavrov added – during a press conference following a meeting with his South African counterpart during his visit to Pretoria – that his country is not against mediation over Ukraine, “but Kyiv is not interested in negotiations motivated by the West.”
He also stressed that the longer the Ukrainian crisis lasts, the more difficult it will be to reach a solution to it, indicating that the United States and Western countries must realize that the approach of colonialism and the imposition of trusteeship has ended, as he put it.