Zelenskyy praises Germany’s €2.7bn military aid pledge to Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Germany as a “true good friend and dependable ally” after it introduced it should provide €2.7bn of extra army assist for Ukraine and construct a weapons manufacturing unit within the nation.

Zelenskyy’s go to to Germany on Sunday, his first since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, marks a major enchancment in bilateral ties after Kyiv, on the onset of the warfare, accused Germany of dithering in its assist for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy met German chancellor Olaf Scholz, president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and different officers a day after visiting Rome to fulfill Italian leaders and Pope Francis. Zelenskyy was additionally set to reach in Paris in a while Sunday for a shock assembly with President Emmanuel Macron. It’s the second such go to to France by the Ukrainian president, who additionally visited Paris in February for a joint assembly with Macron and Scholz.

Germany, which in January determined to ship its Leopard 2 essential battle tanks to Ukraine, on Saturday introduced it should present the nation with extra weapons value €2.7bn to Ukraine. In line with the German defence ministry, Berlin has supplied €4.2bn of army support since 2022.

German heavy weapons producer Rheinmetall on Saturday introduced that it’s going to construct a manufacturing unit to restore and repair tanks in Ukraine in a three way partnership with state-owned defence group Ukroboronprom.

The deliveries will embrace 18 self-propelled howitzers, 4 IRIS-T SLM air defence programs, 30 older Leopard 1 MBTs and 20 Marder infantry preventing automobiles, in addition to artillery munition. In a publish on Twitter, Zelenskyy known as the deal the “largest army support bundle because the starting of the full-scale Russian invasion” and stated German tools was “saving Ukrainian lives and bringing us nearer to victory”.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Pope Francis in Rome © Vatican Media/AFP/Getty Photos

Reflecting the improved ties, defence minister Boris Pistorius stated Germany would supply assist for “so long as its takes” to finish the “Russian warfare in opposition to the Ukrainian individuals”. In April final yr, Steinmeier scrapped a go to to Ukraine after admitting he wouldn’t be welcome, although the German president did meet his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv in October.

Rheinmetall’s chief government Armin Papperger stated on Saturday that the German arms maker would “collectively produce chosen Rheinmetall merchandise in Ukraine” with Ukroboronprom.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy and Scholz travelled to the western German metropolis of Aachen the place the Ukrainian president and his nation’s individuals have been awarded a prize to honour achievements in fostering European unification.

Zelenskyy’s in a single day flight to Berlin got here as Russian forces carried out air strikes on Ternopil, a western metropolis residence to digital music duo Tvorchi who have been on the time representing Ukraine within the finals of the Eurovision Music Contest. Received final yr by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, this yr’s Eurovision contest was held in Liverpool within the UK as a substitute of Ukraine on account of safety considerations.

Combating round Bakhmut, the jap metropolis that Russian forces have tried to seize for greater than 9 months, has intensified, with Moscow’s defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov saying on Sunday that one in every of its colonels had been killed within the metropolis and one other in a separate frontline battle.

Zelenskyy arrived in Berlin after a visit to Rome, the place he met Italian president Sergio Mattarella and prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who stated Rome endorsed Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan.

Italy, which signed a joint declaration with Zelenskyy supporting Ukraine’s bid to affix the EU and Nato army alliance, has contributed round €1bn in army and humanitarian help to Ukraine because the begin of the battle, together with Samp-T air defence programs. 

Zelenskyy met Pope Francis, who has been criticised by some Ukrainians for his reluctance to explicitly denounce Russia for its full-scale invasion. Pope Francis stunned many when he advised reporters in early Might that he was concerned in a secret “peace mission”, which neither Kyiv nor Moscow stated they knew something about.

Whereas Zelenskyy stated he was grateful for the pontiff’s curiosity within the plight of greater than 19,000 Ukrainian youngsters taken to Russia, he additionally known as on Pope Francis to carry Russia to account and assist Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan. The Worldwide Legal Courtroom earlier this yr introduced an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin, citing pressured deportations of Ukrainian youngsters.

“There may be no equality between the sufferer and the aggressor,” stated the Ukrainian president. “I additionally talked about our peace system as the one efficient algorithm for a simply peace. I proposed becoming a member of its implementation.” 

Extra reporting by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome

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