Poland has officially requested permission from Germany to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, where they can help fight the Russian invasion, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Tuesday.
Berlin has received the request from Warsaw, Błaszczak said on Twitter, though German officials did not immediately confirm the information.
The news about the possible shipment of tanks coincided with measures taken by the Ukrainian authorities to tackle corruption. Three senior officials also announced their resignation on Tuesday.
Błaszczak also called on Germany to “join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks”, referring to recent pressure on Berlin to supply some of the main battle tanks it makes. Despite kyiv’s pleas, Germany has been reluctant to take such a step.
“This is our common cause, because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!” Błaszczak tweeted.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called for speeding up delivery of new weapons to Ukraine, where widespread stalemate on the battlefield is expected to give way to new offensives in the spring.
“At this critical moment in the war, we need to supply Ukraine with more heavy weapons and advanced systems, and we need to do it faster,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday after meeting German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin.
Meanwhile, in kyiv, the deputy head of the presidential office resigned earlier in the day after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised to reshuffle his team amid high-level corruption allegations.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko asked to be relieved of his duties, according to a copy circulating online of a decree signed by Zelenskyy and Tymoshenko’s own posts on social media. Neither of them explained the reasons for the resignation.
Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also left his post, according to local media, which alleged that his departure was related to a food purchase scandal for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko also resigned.
With Western allies contributing billions of dollars to kyiv’s fight against Moscow, Zelenskyy had vowed to root out corruption some observers have called endemic. The president came to power in 2019 after an anti-establishment and anti-corruption campaign
Tymoshenko entered the presidential office that year after working on communication strategy and content creation for Zelenskyy’s election campaign.
Last year he was investigated for the use of luxury cars in a personal capacity. In September he was among officials linked to the embezzlement of humanitarian aid funds worth more than $7 million destined for the Zaporizhia region in the south of the country. Tymoshenko has denied any wrongdoing.
On Sunday, a deputy minister was dismissed for being part of a network that allegedly diverted budgetary funds. The Infrastructure Ministry later identified the person as Vasyl Lozynsky.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, the infrastructure minister, said Lozynsky was relieved of his duties after the anti-corruption agency detained him while taking a $400,000 bribe for helping rig contracts related to repairing facilities hit by Russian attacks.
In his late-night speech, Zelenskyy noted that attention to the war would not stop his government from tackling corruption.
“I want to be clear: there will not be a return to how things were before,” said the president.
The anti-corruption campaign is vital for kyiv if it wants to move forward with its application for membership of the European Union. The bloc’s partners must meet a series of specific economic and political conditions, such as a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles.
In June, the EU agreed to put Ukraine on the path to membership, moving with unusual speed and unity to move the beleaguered country away from Russian influence and closer ties with the West.
Ukraine, too, has long aspired to join NATO, but the military alliance is unwilling to offer it an invitation, partly because of corruption, flaws in its defense system and its borders.
Separately, Russian nighttime shelling killed one civilian and wounded two others near the eastern city of Bakhmut, the epicenter of fighting in recent months, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Tuesday.
Russian forces shelled nine other towns and villages in the northern Sumi region on the Russian border, killing a woman and wounding three others, Governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy reported on Telegram. All the victims lived in the same house, which received a direct artillery hit, he added.
This story was originally published on January 24, 2023 5:11 a.m.
#Poland #asks #Berlin #permission #send #tanks #Ukraine