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Polish-German stand-off on tanks but talks ongoing

By AFP - May 24,2022 - Last updated at May 24,2022

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau listens as German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock addresses a joint press conference following talks at the Foreign Office in Berlin, on Tuesday (AFP photo)

DAVOS, Switzerland — Polish President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday expressed "deep disappointment" that Germany had not provided tanks to his country to make up for the ones Warsaw had sent to Kyiv to fight the Russian assault.

Poland in April said it had sent Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukraine without giving a number but media reports said over 200 had been sent.

"We have sent tanks to Ukraine and it is a large number," Duda told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

He said Germany had pledged to make up for the number of tanks donated but added that "we hear Germany does not want to keep that promise. It is a deep disappointment for us".

The Polish army has around 250 German-made Leopard 2 tanks and according to media reports was hoping that Germany would furnish some more.

Last week, the Czech Republic said it had received 15 Leopard 2 A4 tanks to make up for the T-72s it had sent to Ukraine.

According to Germany's Der Spiegel weekly, Warsaw unlike Prague was insisting on having the latest Leopard tanks, leading to a deadlock as even the German army does not have these in sufficient amount.

On Tuesday German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the two sides were in talks about "how we can clear up the uncertainties that perhaps exist at the moment".

"What has become clear, and otherwise we would not have had to come up with the exchange instrument, is that heavy materiel in particular can't be delivered at the push of a button or a snap of the fingers, especially not from German stocks," she said.

"With regards to the materiel that would then be supplied as part of the swap we have to make sure that it is available, that it is being repaired or reordered. And that's why it's important that we are in constant exchange with each other so that no misunderstandings arise."

Her Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau added: "The devil is indeed in the detail, but already I can say we have agreed that we want to solve this process."


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