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Ukraine gets Polish Leopard tanks

Radek Pietruszka/PAP

The German-made Leopard tanks that Warsaw decided to hand over to Kyiv have already reached Ukraine, the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, has confirmed.

Duda made the announcement on Friday at a meeting of the National Security Council, a body composed of top government officials and party leaders and summoned for important security matters by the president.

Opening the meeting, the president acknowledged the absence of the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, who went to Kyiv earlier on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I’m smiling, because he went there to bring our Leopards as the first tanks to have reached Ukraine under the tank coalition initiative that we started,” Duda said.

“And it’s good that the prime minister is doing this, especially that it’s not an ordinary day, it’s the anniversary of Russia’s attack on Ukraine,” he added.

The defence minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, who also attended the meeting, recalled Duda’s announcement made in Lviv on January 11 that Poland had decided to hand over a company of Leopard tanks to Ukraine and was determined to build a broader coalition of tank donors in the West.

“And we did build that coalition,” Blaszczak said, adding that talks with Germany were crucial “to get the ball rolling.”

“At the same time, Ukrainian soldiers are being trained by Polish, Canadian and Norwegian instructors at the Leopard Training Centre in Swietoszow (in western Poland – PAP),” he added.

“After a conversation with my German counterpart, and upon his request, I agreed to such a division that Poland will deal with building a coalition of countries that own the Leopard 2A4 tanks, and Germany will get involved with countries that have the Leopard 2A6 tanks,” Blaszczak said.

The defence minister thanked his counterparts from Norway, Canada, Finland and other countries for “ensuring that a battalion of these tanks has been created.” 

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