Germany signals shift in veto on Leopard tanks for Ukraine

PARIS/LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Germany would not stand in the way if Poland wants to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Germany's foreign minister said, signalling a

possible breakthrough for Ukraine as it tries to bolster its forces ahead of an expected new Russian offensive. Eleven months after Russia invaded its southern neighbour,

the fighting is centred on the town of Bakhmut in Ukraine's east, where Russia's Wagner mercenaries and Ukrainian forces have been locked in a battle of attrition. Russia's

defence ministry said for the second straight day on Sunday that its forces were improving their positions in Ukraine's southern region of Zaporizhzhia, though a Ukrainian

military spokesperson told the state broadcaster the situation there was “difficult” but stable. Reuters was not able to independently verify battlefield accounts.

Ukrainian officials have been calling on Western allies to supply them with the modern German-made tanks for months but Germany has held back from sending them or allowing

other NATO countries to do so. Leopard tanks, which are held by an array of NATO countries but whose transfer to Ukraine requires Berlin's approval, are seen by defence

experts as the most suitable for Ukraine. Western allies pledged billions of dollars in weapons for Ukraine last week but they failed to persuade Germany to lift its veto on

providing the tanks. But in an apparent shift in Germany's position, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said her government would not block Poland if it were to send its

Leopard 2 tanks without German approval.