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Poland formally requests German permission to send tanks to Ukraine

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German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend a press conference at the defense ministry in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA-EFE
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend a press conference at the defense ministry in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA-EFE

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Poland said Tuesday that Berlin has received its request to send some of its German-built Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine so it can defend itself against Russia.

Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland's defense minister, said it has formally asked for consent to follow through on Kyiv's request for the tanks. He also pushed for Germany to send more tanks itself.

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"The Germans have already received our request for consent to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine," Blaszczak said on Twitter. "I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. This is our common cause because it is about the security of the whole of Europe."

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Monday he would seek approval to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine but would prepare to move forward without Berlin's support.

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During a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the government is still formulating a decision on the tanks.

"I can tell you there is no new information here, the situation has not changed, we are preparing our decision, which will come very soon," said Pistorius.

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Pistorius added that training and logistics would have to be worked out, not only teaching Ukrainians how to use the vehicles but supply chains for parts, maintenance and repairs.

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"It's not a matter of counting our tanks," he said. "We know how many we have. It's more complicated than that."

The bulk of Ukraine's tank regiment is decades-old Soviet-era T-72 tanks, which cannot militarily compete with more modern tanks like the Leopard 2 or the American M1 Abrams tanks.

During the joint briefing, Stoltenberg praised Germany's past contributions to Ukraine stressed the importance of providing its soldiers with more powerful weaponry

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"The only way to lasting peace is to make it clear to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin that he will not win on the battlefield," Stoltenberg.

"Therefore, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems so that the Ukrainian forces are able to repel the Russian forces, not only to survive but to win, take back territory and prevail as a sovereign, independent state in Europe."

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