Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has confirmed that the ring swap for arms supplies to Ukraine is not working as planned. However, she rejected the sharp criticism of the Polish government, which recently accused Germany of breaking its promises and using deceptive maneuvers in the exchange of tank rings. “In a situation like this, nobody deceives their European neighbors,” said the Green politician on Friday evening in the “Bild” format “The Right Questions”.
The situation is unsatisfactory for both sides. But in war you don’t always know right away which is the perfect way. And the exchange of rings was initiated because it seemed to be “the best and quickest way at the time”.
“Right from the start it was clear that we wouldn’t be able to replace every single tank overnight, of course, with a snap of our fingers,” Baerbock replied to the accusations from Poland. “Of course they can say we want more from you, but the tanks they have can still be delivered directly to Ukraine.”
Since the ring exchange is obviously not going as planned, the federal government is now examining “why that is obviously not happening and whether we then have to provide other support”. Armed aid for Ukraine is not just about tanks, but also about other heavy equipment, said Baerbock. “I’ve made it clear several times that we have to look at artillery in particular to find out how we can provide more support.”
In the exchange, Poland will receive replacements from allies such as Germany for Soviet-designed tanks that it gave to Ukraine after the Russian invasion of the neighboring country. This should make it possible for the Ukrainian soldiers to quickly receive heavy military equipment that they know how to use without extensive training. However, it has been stagnating for weeks. So far, no public information has been given in Berlin on the exact state of affairs.
The people in Warsaw are anything but satisfied with the result. “The German promises to swap tank rings have proven to be deceptive maneuvers,” Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek told Der Spiegel. From the Polish point of view, the German offers are unacceptable, so they are now relying on the help of other NATO partners.
First, the Germans offered the Poles tanks “older than the ones we gave Ukraine,” he said. This offer is “not to be accepted because we have no interest in deteriorating the condition of our armament and in training our soldiers on equipment from the 1960s”.
“A symbolic number of tanks was offered,” says the Deputy Foreign Minister. “It’s hard to take this as a serious proposal after we delivered over 200 tanks to Ukraine in two months.”
That’s why Poland prefers to talk to other NATO partners “who are really willing to help us.” According to him, Poland is already receiving tanks from the United States and Great Britain.
Larger purchases of planes and tanks from South Korea are also being prepared. Warsaw is interested in 48 FA-50 light combat aircraft, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Friday after media reports.
“The first plane would arrive in Poland as early as next year. We are in the process of completing negotiations on this, we are close to completion,” he said. There were also South Korean main battle tanks K2 “Black Panther”. “Already this year we will receive the first units, a total of 180 tanks in the first batch,” said Blaszczak. In the future, Poland will also build and develop these tanks under license.