Poland accuses Germany of reneging on promise to provide tanks to replace those given to Ukraine

Polish President Andrzej Duda has accused Germany of reneging on a promise to provide tanks to replace those that Poland gave to Ukraine to support its defence against Russia.

“We handed over tanks to Ukraine, a very large number of them, to provide urgent help,” said Duda, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“If we were supported by our allies from Germany with a batch of tanks to replace the ones we gave to Ukraine, we would be very grateful,” he continued. “We had such a promise, [but now] we hear that Germany will not want to fulfil this promise. It is a big disappointment for us.”

Last month, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki confirmed longstanding rumours that Poland had provided tanks to Ukraine. Polish officials later told the Wall Street Journal that at least 240 Soviet-designed T-72 tanks had been transferred.

Warsaw was hoping that it would receive tanks from Western allies to compensate. In April, Boris Johnson announced that the British government was “looking at sending tanks to Poland to help them as they send some of their T-72s to Ukraine”.

Shortly afterwards, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the Polish government had asked Germany for a batch of Leopard 2 tanks to help replace the T-72s it had given to Ukraine. But the newspaper noted that Berlin had still not made a decision.

Last week, Der Spiegel reported that talks on the issue were “deadlocked”, and that German defence minister Christine Lambrecht had privately admitted that there was no hope of an agreement with Warsaw.

According to the newspaper’s sources, whereas the Czech Republic accepted older models of tanks from Germany to replace those it provided to Ukraine, Poland insisted on the latest version, believing this is what had been promised. But Germany views this as impossible, noting that its own army does not yet even have them.

The situation “is now turning into an ugly argument”, wrote Der Spiegel. Polish deputy foreign minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk told the newspaper that “the Germans made promises but unfortunately none of these have been implemented”.

The German Greens – part of the ruling coalition – have also criticised the failure to reach a deal with Poland. “It is crucial that the exchange with Poland is now implemented, because Warsaw has already done a lot to support Ukraine,” said Anton Hofreiter, one of its members of parliament.

Meanwhile, Poland has reportedly also been in discussions with the US about obtaining Abrams tanks that are stored in Europe, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna yesterday.

Warsaw recently concluded an agreement to purchase 250 of the latest Abrams, but the first will not be delivered until 2025-26, with only training versions arriving before then, notes the newspaper.

“We are counting on the support of the NATO community, and we are counting on the support of the US, and also of Germany,” said Duda during his remarks in Davos today.

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Main image credit: 1GNC Münster/Flickr (under CC BY 2.0)

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