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4 Jul, 2023 20:07

Germany, Poland at odds over tank-repair center for Ukraine – Der Spiegel

Joint project is more than a month behind schedule as first damaged Ukrainian tanks arrive in Poland to be fixed, the outlet said
Germany, Poland at odds over tank-repair center for Ukraine – Der Spiegel

Kiev has been left without a maintenance and repair hub for its Western-supplied tanks because of a dispute between Berlin and Warsaw, German news outlet Der Spiegel reported over the weekend. The project, announced by German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, is more than a month behind schedule as Germany and Poland struggle to find common ground, according to the report.

In April Pistorius announced the project on the sidelines of a meeting of Ukraine’s Western backers at the US’ Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The repair hub for the German-made Leopard tanks was scheduled to be established on Polish territory by the end of May, the minister said at that time.

By early July, the project had hardly moved past the declaration of intent that Pistorius had signed with his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak at the very same Ramstein meeting, Der Spiegel reports. According to the outlet, the first draft contract agreement between Berlin and Warsaw that emerged last week has not been signed by the sides, due to various controversies.

German defense-industry giants are blaming the delays on Warsaw, the report continues. Under the initial agreement, two German tank manufacturers – Rheinmetall and KMW – were to set up a joint venture in Poland together with the Polish state-owned PGZ company. The tank-repair costs were then to be assumed by the German government.

Poland then set “unrealistic prices” on the repair services, sources within industry circles told Der Spiegel. PGZ charged more than 100,000 euros for an initial checkup of a damaged tank, they said, adding that a similar procedure would cost only about 12,000 euros in Germany. The Polish side reportedly also refused to provide any warranties for the repairs.

Der Spiegel’s report claims that it’s political play in Poland that is supposedly behind what it called the “unusual” demands put forward by Warsaw. It said it was “obvious” that the controversies surrounding the project are “politically motivated.” It did not present any evidence other than that Poland had repeatedly accused Germany of being too slow when it came to military aid for Kiev.

Several Ukrainian Leopard tanks in need of repairs have already arrived in Poland, Der Spiegel added.

On Monday, Pistorius discussed the issue with Blaszczak during a visit to Poland. The German minister demanded rapid progress on the project, adding that he expected a solution to be found within ten days. Blaszczak called the talks “not easy,” adding that neither of the two ministers is “responsible for overseeing the industry.”

He also said that the two sides had managed to clarify one of the three “points of contention” they’d identified. Poland is “fully open” to cooperation with Germany, he maintained, adding specifically that he was aware of the “misunderstandings” reported by Der Spiegel.