HomeBreaking NewsZelenskyy hails Germany's pledge of 2.7 billion euro military aid to Ukraine

Zelenskyy hails Germany’s pledge of 2.7 billion euro military aid to Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed Germany as a “true friend and a reliable ally” after announcing he would provide 2.7 billion euros of additional military aid to Ukraine and build an arms factory in the country.

Zelenskyy’s visit to Germany on Sunday, his first since Russia full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, marks a significant improvement in bilateral relations after kyiv, at the start of the war, accused Germany of wavering in its support for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and other officials a day after visiting Rome to meet with Italian leaders and Pope Francis.

Zelenskyy then went to Paris later on Sunday for a surprise meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, the Ukrainian leader’s second visit to France.

France later said it was preparing further arms deliveries, including training and equipping multiple battalions of armored vehicles in the coming weeks and bolstering air defences. A French official declined to say whether France would provide long-range missiles like the UK. recently did.

Zelenskyy said on Twitter after arriving in the French capital: “With each visit, Ukraine’s offensive and defense capabilities are expanding. Ties with Europe are getting stronger and the pressure on Russia is growing.”

Germany, which in January decided to send its Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, announced on Saturday that it will provide the country with an additional 2.7 billion euros worth of weapons to Ukraine. According to the German Defense Ministry, Berlin has provided 4.2 billion euros of military aid since 2022.

German heavy weapons maker Rheinmetall announced on Saturday that it will build a factory to repair and repair tanks in Ukraine in a joint venture with state defense group Ukroboronprom.

The deliveries will include 18 self-propelled howitzers, four IRIS-T SLM air defense systems, 30 older Leopard 1 MBTs and 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, as well as artillery ammunition. In a post on Twitter, Zelenskyy called the deal the “biggest military aid package since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion” and said the German team was “saving Ukrainian lives and bringing us closer to victory.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Pope Francis in Rome © Vatican Media/AFP/Getty Images

Reflecting on improving ties, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Germany would provide assistance “for as long as it takes” to end the “Russian war against the Ukrainian people.” In April of last year, Steinmeier canceled a visit to Ukraine after admitting that he would not be welcome, although the German president met his Ukrainian counterpart in kyiv in October.

Rheinmetall chief executive Armin Papperger said on Saturday that the German arms maker “will jointly produce selected Rheinmetall products in Ukraine” with Ukroboronprom.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy and Scholz traveled to the western German city of Aachen, where the Ukrainian president and the people of his country received an award to honor achievements in promoting European unification.

Zelenskyy’s overnight flight to Berlin came as Russian forces carried out airstrikes on Ternopil, a western city home to electronic music duo Tvorchi, who at the time were representing Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest final. Won last year by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, this year’s Eurovision contest was held in Liverpool in the UK instead of Ukraine due to security concerns.

Fighting around Bakhmut, the eastern city that Russian forces have been trying to capture for more than nine months, has intensified, with Moscow Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov saying on Sunday that one of its colonels had been killed. in the city and another on a separate front. battle.

Zelenskyy arrived in Berlin after a trip to Rome, where he met Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who said Rome backed Kiev’s 10-point peace plan.

Italy, which signed a joint statement with Zelenskyy supporting Ukraine’s attempt to join the EU-NATO military alliance, has provided around €1 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since the start of the conflict, including Samp-T air defense systems.

Zelenskyy met with Pope Francis, who has been criticized by some Ukrainians for his reluctance to explicitly denounce Russia for its large-scale invasion. Pope Francis surprised many when he told reporters in early May that he was involved in a secret “peace mission” that neither kyiv nor Moscow said they knew about.

While Zelenskyy said he was grateful for the pontiff’s interest in the plight of more than 19,000 Ukrainian children taken to Russia, he also called on Pope Francis to hold Russia to account and support Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan. The International Criminal Court announced earlier this year an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putinciting forced deportations of Ukrainian children.

“There can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor,” said the Ukrainian president. “I also spoke of our peace formula as the only effective algorithm for a just peace. I proposed to join their implementation.”

Additional reporting by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome

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