Polish Leopard 2 tanks training at Grafenwoehr Germany 190123 CREDIT NATO.jpg
Polish Leopard 2 tanks training at Grafenwoehr, Germany (Picture: Nato).
Ukraine

Poland officially requests German permission to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Polish Leopard 2 tanks training at Grafenwoehr Germany 190123 CREDIT NATO.jpg
Polish Leopard 2 tanks training at Grafenwoehr, Germany (Picture: Nato).

Poland has officially requested permission from Germany to transfer its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help fight Russia's invasion, the Polish defence minister has said.

Berlin has received Warsaw's request, Mariusz Blaszczak said in a tweet, with German officials later confirming to the dpa news agency that they had received the application and said it would be assessed "with due urgency".

He also appealed to Germany "to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks" — a reference to recent pressure on Berlin to send some of its own armour.

Germany has hesitated to take that step, despite Ukraine's pleas.

"This is our common cause because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!" Mr Blaszczak tweeted.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg called for the speedy delivery of new weapons to Ukraine, where a broad battlefield stalemate is expected to give way to new offensives in the spring.

"At this crucial moment in the war, we need to provide Ukraine with heavier and more advanced systems, and we need to do it faster," he said on Tuesday after talks with German defence minister Boris Pistorius in Berlin.

Watch: All you need to know about the Leopard 2 tank.

This update follows the news that the leaders of dozens of major Commons committees also asked Germany's defence minister to allow Ukraine to defend itself against Russia's invasion using the Leopard tanks.

Prior to the formal request of permission from Poland, the German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock told French TV channel LCI that "if we were asked, we would not stand in the way" in sharing some of its German-made Leopard tanks.

The Ukrainian government says that tanks, and especially the German-made Leopards, are vital if it is to prevail over the Kremlin's invading forces.

Combining speed and accuracy, the Leopard, equipped with its 120mm Smoothbore Cannon, is capable of hitting targets 5km away while on the move.