Olaf Scholz overrules own foreign minister as Leopard tanks crisis deepens

German chancellor Olaf Scholz appeared to overrule his own foreign minister as pressure increased on his government to provide tanks to the Ukrainian war effort. His

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had said that Berlin would not stand in Poland’s way of re-exporting German Leopard 2 tanks to help Ukraine’s armed forces break through

Russian-held territory. Declining to elaborate ahead of a crunch meeting in Brussels she told reporters it was important to “do everything we can to defend

Ukraine”. But on Monday evening, a spokesman for Mr Scholz insisted Poland would have to follow an “established procedure” if it wanted to give the German-made tanks to

Kyiv. Germany’s Leopard tanks, fielded by armies across Europe, are widely seen as the best fit for Ukraine, but Berlin must authorise their sale and has yet to do

so. Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrat party argues the West should avoid sudden moves that might escalate the war. But several EU allies reject that position, saying

Russia is already fully committed to its 11-month-old assault on Ukraine. Poland has indicated it will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, with or without Germany’s

permission. Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday said that Germany’s approval was of “secondary importance”. “Even if we did not get this approval we

would still transfer our tanks together with others to Ukraine”, he told reporters German defence group Rheinmetall could deliver 139 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine if

required, a spokesperson for the company told media group RND.