Ukraine war: Poland is ready to bypass Germany’s consent, and Russia downgrades relations with Estonia

1. Poland says it is ready to re-export German-made Leopard 2 tanks without Berlin’s permission

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

As a tank producer, Germany has veto power over the re-export and transfer of armored vehicles. But as Germany struggles to decide whether to move its Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, Morawiecki has suggested creating a “small coalition of countries” to go it alone.

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

The Polish prime minister’s comment on Monday followed a statement by German Foreign Minister Analina Berbock over the weekend, in which he said the country would “not stand in the way” if Poland decided to send its tanks into Ukraine. She added that Warsaw had not yet made a formal request to Berlin to transfer the tanks.

“We will ask for such permission, but this is a secondary issue,” Morawiki told reporters on Monday.

Even if we don’t get this approval […] We will continue to transfer our tanks, along with others, to Ukraine.

2- Moscow downgraded its relations with Tallinn, accusing Estonia of “total Russophobia”.

Moscow downgraded diplomatic relations with NATO member Estonia after accusing Tallinn of “complete fear of Russia”.

The decision was announced by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which it said was Moscow’s response to Tallinn’s move to downsize the Russian embassy.

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

“The Estonian regime has got what it deserves,” commented Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.

3. Russian Lavrov says Ukraine rejects peace talks. South Africa defends military exercises

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said during his visit to South Africa on Monday that Ukraine rejects peace talks, adding that the longer they drag on, the more difficult it will be to resolve the conflict.

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

In recent weeks, Moscow has reiterated that it is open to talks with Kyiv, but both Ukraine and the United States say they see no signs that Russia will seriously consider negotiating an end to the war. Instead, they suspect that Moscow may want to use the time spent in negotiations to regroup its forces, which suffered a string of defeats last year.

Lavrov’s visit with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor was met with protests from opposition parties and the country’s small Ukrainian community.

The two foreign ministers defended the joint naval exercises between Russia, China and South Africa scheduled for next month, with Lavrov saying that Russia does not want any scandal and provocations about the military exercises.

Pandor said the exercises are part of the “normal course of relations” between the two countries.

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