Berlin has indicated it might not have the tanks Warsaw wants at the ready
The German government has rejected criticism by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who accused Berlin of failing to substitute tanks Warsaw had delivered to Ukraine. It might take Germany a long time to produce the heavy equipment Poland seeks to receive from Berlin, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told journalists on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Duda told the German news outlet Die Welt that Berlin had failed to replenish the Polish stocks in a timely fashion after Warsaw "weakened" its own military potential by sending "a large number" of tanks to Ukraine. Most Polish tanks are German-made ones and Warsaw expected Berlin to step in, the Polish leader added.
"The federal government is perplexed," Hebestreit said, responding to the Polish president's comments. Berlin has "taken note" of Duda's criticism "but that does not make it right," he added.
Warsaw reportedly specifically requested the most modern Leopard 2A7 tanks. But Germany itself possesses a relatively small quantity of these heavy equipment pieces, Hebestreit explained, adding that producing additional ones would take time.
The official has also pointed to other similar swap deals with Eastern European nations. The agreements involved Germany sending some modernized Leopard 2 tanks to its partners to substitute the equipment that was headed to Ukraine, he said, adding that Germany never promised to deliver the most modern Leopard 2A7 models.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock discussed the issue with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau on Tuesday. The two ministers had spoken about the ways to clarify all the "uncertainties" together, she said following the meeting.
Berlin cannot simply deliver heavy military equipment to Ukraine or elsewhere "at the push of a button or with a snap of the fingers," Baerbock argued, adding that the equipment must first be "made available, repaired or ordered."
Rau said at the time that he "took note" of the German statement, adding that Baerbock gave him several reasons Berlin cannot fulfill its end of the bargain right away. The minister still admitted that Germany had the power "to solve the issue."
Berlin previously struck several swap deals with Eastern European nations aimed at supplying weapons to Ukraine. In late April, Germany and Slovenia agreed on a deal that saw Berlin substituting Soviet-made battle tanks Slovenia sent to Kiev.
Last week, Germany announced another such swap, this time with Czechia. Prague is now expecting to receive 15 Leopard 2 tanks from German stocks in exchange for tank deliveries to Ukraine.