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Ukraine war: Poland willing to bypass Germany’s approval to send tanks

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Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki restated on Monday that his country could send its stock of German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine even without Berlin’s permission. 

As a producer of the tanks, Germany has veto power on re-exporting and transferring the armoured vehicles. But as Germany struggles to make a decision on whether to transfer the Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, Morawiecki has suggested creating a “small coalition of countries” which would go ahead with it on its own.

Morawiecki has been particularly vocal in his condemnation of Germany’s reluctance towards sending its own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, and has previously stated that Berlin’s “consent is a secondary issue”.

The Polish prime minister’s comment on Monday followed a statement by Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbok over the weekend, saying that the country “would not stand in the way” if Poland decided to send its tanks to Ukraine. She added that Warsaw has not yet made an official request to Berlin for transferring the tanks.

“We will ask for such permission, but this is an issue of secondary importance,” Morawiecki told reporters on Monday. 

“Even if we did not get this approval […] we would still transfer our tanks together with others to Ukraine”.

2. Moscow is downgrading relations with Tallinn, accusing Estonia of “total Russophobia”

Moscow is downgrading diplomatic relations with NATO member Estonia after accusing Tallinn of “total Russophobia”. 

The decision was announced by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which said it was Moscow’s response to Tallinn moving to reduce the size of the Russian embassy. 

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it has ordered the Estonian envoy to Moscow to leave next month. Both countries will then be represented in each other’s capitals by an interim chargé d’affaires instead of an ambassador.

“The Estonian regime has got what it deserved,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented.

3. Russia’s Lavrov says Ukraine is rejecting peace talks; South Africa defends military drills

During his visit to South Africa on Monday, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that Ukraine is rejecting peace talks, adding that the longer this goes on for, the harder it will be to resolve the conflict.

“The longer they (the Ukrainians) refuse, the harder it will be to find a solution,” Lavrov said during a news conference.

In recent weeks, Moscow has repeated that it’s open to talks with Kyiv, but both Ukraine and the US say they see no signs that Russia would seriously consider negotiating an end to the war. Instead, they suspect Moscow might want to use the time spent on negotiations to regroup its forces hit by a series of defeats last year.

Lavrov’s visit with South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor was met with protests from opposition parties and the small Ukrainian community in the country.

Both foreign ministers defended joint naval drills between Russia, China and South Africa scheduled for next month, with Lavrov saying that Russia didn’t want any scandal and provocations around the military exercises.

Pandor said the drills are part of the “natural course of relations” between the countries.

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