DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – Germany’s allies on Tuesday ramped up the pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to allow the supply of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine ahead of a crunch defence ministers meeting on Friday.

Berlin has so far resisted providing the modern tanks or allowing partners which have them to do so, saying Western tanks should only be supplied to Ukraine if there is agreement among Kyiv’s main allies, particularly the United States.

A day before the Scholz heads to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, some of Ukraine’s closest allies sought to pressure him into changing his mind.

“We hope and are trying to organise bigger support for Ukraine. We hope a few partners, allies, will give tanks to Ukraine,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said at a panel at the WEF.

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Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said he “strongly believes” Germany would provide Ukraine, which is fighting a Russian invasion, with Leopard tanks.

“We don’t have the luxury for such delays. It must be done fast,” he said, adding that the tank deliveries would be a strategic part of the next phase of the conflict.

German Defence Secretary Christine Lambrecht quit on Monday, and Berlin said on Tuesday that a decision on tanks would be the first item on her successor’s agenda. Two sources told Reuters Social Democrat (SPD) interior minister of the state of Lower Saxony Boris Pistorius would be appointed.

A meeting of Ukraine’s allies at Ramstein in Germany on Friday is set to see the announcement of more military aid to the country.

“Important decisions will be made,” Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares Bueno said, adding that Madrid was at this point not able to supply Leopard tanks, which it also possesses.

(Reporting by John Irish, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Alex Richardson)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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