War in Ukraine, day 333 | Germany is ready to allow Poland to send Leopard tanks to Kyiv

(Moscow) Germany will not “go against” Poland’s desire to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine, which constantly demands them, if Warsaw asks permission, said the head of the Russian Federation on German Diplomacy Sunday, Annalena Baerbock.

“If we were asked that question, we would not oppose it,” said the minister from the Green party, who is in coalition with Social Democrats Olaf Scholz and the Liberals about the delivery of the German-made tanks to Kyiv.

“For now, questions have not been asked” by Poland, which was asked to submit a formal request to Berlin, said the minister, who was interviewed in Paris on French channel LCI.

In an interview on German television ARD, the German Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius, stressed at around the same time that “the decision […] depends on many factors and is taken in the Chancellery”.

Pistorius, a Social Democrat like Chancellor Scholz, was not asked by reporters about Ms.I Baerbock.

The German government is under increasing pressure to supply Ukraine with the Leopard heavy tanks, which could have a significant impact on the battlefield against Russian forces.

“I understand how important these tanks are, we are fully aware of that,” added Mr.I Baerbock.

Poland and Finland have offered to ship the Leopards in their possession, but need official approval from Berlin for re-export.

However, Olaf Scholz has so far declined to comment on questions about this indirect delivery, as is the case with the direct delivery of the Leopard from German stock.

Again raising the question on Sunday in Paris, during a joint press conference with Emmanuel Macron, the Chancellor was evasive, repeating the need to act in consultation with Ukraine’s allies regarding the weapons shipments question.

This is not the first time that the government’s Green Ministers, especially MI Baerbock, take a more proactive stance than the Chancellor on military support for Ukraine.

Several environmental figures have insisted in recent weeks that Olaf Scholz approves the delivery of the tanks to Kyiv.

At a meeting on Friday at the US Ramstein base in Germany, Ukraine’s Western allies rejected any decision on the matter, prompting annoyance from Kyiv who criticized their “indecisiveness”.

Moscow says it is making progress in the Zaporizhia region

“The front is moving, mainly in two directions: Orikhiv and Gulyaipole,” said Vladimir Rogov, head of the regional occupation authority installed by Moscow, quoted by Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency.

The two cities, with pre-war populations of around 15,000 respectively, are 65 km and 100 km southeast of Zaporijjia, the capital of the eponymous region, which is controlled by Ukrainian forces, respectively.

According to Mr. Rogov, “the initiative is ours” and fighting is ongoing in this area.

The Russian Ministry of Defense, for its part, assured Sunday, in its daily update, that “units of the Eastern Military District occupy more advantageous lines and positions during offensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia region”, repeating its statement from yesterday.

In its morning bulletin, the Ukrainian army, for its part, indicated only that, as of Saturday, “more than 15 sites have become targets of Russian artillery” in the Zaporijjia region.

Also on Saturday, the Russian army claimed to have conducted “offensive operations” in this area, taking “advantageous lines and positions” along the way.

Earlier this week, Vladimir Rogov, for his part, indicated that the “intensity of hostilities” had “sharply” increased “on the entire front” in this southern region of Ukraine.

The line of contact between the Ukrainian and Russian armies in the Zaporijjia region has been stable for several months without major fighting, unlike the Donetsk (East) and Kherson (South) regions.

A top ministry official was sacked

A senior Ukrainian ministry official suspected of embezzlement was fired on Sunday, while an internal audit was launched at the Ministry of Defense after press disclosures about alleged contracts signed for inflated prices.

“The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine ordered the dismissal of VM Lozynkiy as Deputy Minister of Community, Territory and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine,” Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmygal said on Telegram.

On Saturday, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) arrested Vasyl Lozynkiï on suspicion of embezzlement.

Mr. Lozynkiï, who has been in office since May 2020, “received (400,000 dollars) for facilitating the completion of contracts for the purchase of equipment and generators at inflated prices”, NABU has indicated in a press release.

The sacking of a politician comes as Ukraine faces power shortages following Russia’s attack on its energy facilities in the dead of winter.

Embezzlement remains common in Ukraine, a country plagued by decades of corruption.

In another alleged corruption case, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense on Sunday ordered the launch of an “internal audit” and held an “emergency meeting” on Monday around the Defense Minister, Oleksiï Reznikov, to explain the possibility of the contract being inflated. by the ministry.

On Saturday, press reports in national media accused the Ukrainian ministry of signing contracts for extortionate prices for food products intended for its soldiers.

According to news site ZN. UA., the signed contracts, for 2023, will be valued at 13 billion hryvnias, or more than $350 million at current rates, with prices set “two to three higher” than current rates for staple food products.

“If violations are found in the activities of officials of the Ministry of Defense, they will be held accountable in accordance with applicable law,” the Ukrainian ministry said in a statement.

“The ministry purchased the relevant products in accordance with the procedures established by law”, however, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine underlined, judging “fake” and “misleading” information released in the press.

“This was promulgated with the intention of deliberately manipulating” and “harmful to defense interests during a special period”, he sneered, recalling that “checks were carried out” on signed contracts.

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