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

President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed Germany as a “true friend and reliable ally” after Germany announced it would provide Ukraine with €2.7 billion in additional military aid and build weapons factories in the country.

President Zelensky visited Germany on Sunday for the first time since his visit to Russia. Full-scale invasion of Ukraine February 2022 marks a significant improvement in bilateral relations after Kiev accused Germany of reluctance to support Ukraine at the start of the war.

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

President Zelensky then traveled to Paris late Sunday for a surprise meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, the second visit to France by a Ukrainian leader.

France then announced that it was preparing to deliver new weapons in the coming weeks, including training and equipping several battalions of armored vehicles and strengthening its air defenses. French officials declined to say whether France would provide long-range missiles like Britain. I did it recently.

After arriving in the French capital, President Zelensky tweeted: “With each visit, Ukraine’s defenses and offensive capabilities grow. Our ties with Europe grow stronger, and the pressure on Russia grows.”

Germany in January Leopard 2 main battle tank On Saturday, it announced that it would provide Ukraine with additional weapons worth 2.7 billion euros. According to the German Defense Ministry, Berlin has provided 4.2 billion euros in military aid since 2022.

German heavy weapons maker Rheinmetall announced Saturday that it will build a tank repair and maintenance plant in Ukraine in a joint venture with state-owned defense organization Ukroboronprom.

The delivery includes 18 self-propelled howitzers, 4 IRIS-T SLM air defense systems, 30 old Leopard 1 MBTs, 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles and artillery shells. In a Twitter post, President Zelensky called the deal “the largest military aid package since the beginning of the full-scale Russian aggression,” adding that German equipment “saves the lives of Ukrainians and brings us closer to victory.” there is,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with Pope Francis in Rome
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Pope Francis in Rome © Vatican Media/AFP/Getty Images

Reflecting improved relations, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Germany would provide assistance “as long as necessary” to end “Russia’s war against the Ukrainian people.”Last April, Steinmeier Canceled visit to Ukraine Although he admitted he was not welcome, the German president met with the Ukrainian president in Kiev in October.

Rheinmetall Chief Executive Armin Pappelger said on Saturday that the German arms manufacturer and Ukroboronprom will “jointly produce selected Rheinmetall products in Ukraine”.

On Sunday, Zelensky and Scholz traveled to the western German city of Aachen, where the Ukrainian president and people presented him with an award for promoting European unity.

On President Zelensky’s night flight to Berlin, the Russian military bombed the western city of Ternopil, home of the electronic music duo Tvorki, who were representing Ukraine in the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest at the time. I was in the middle of Last year, the Ukrainian Karush Orchestra won, but this year’s Eurovision contest was held in Liverpool, England, instead of Ukraine due to safety concerns.

Fighting rages around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces have been trying to seize for more than nine months, and Moscow Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday that one colonel had been killed in the city and another had been killed. announced that he had been killed on another front. Fight.

President Zelensky arrived in Berlin after a visit to Rome and met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, saying Rome supported Kiev’s 10-point peace plan.

Italy, which signed a joint declaration with President Zelensky in support of Ukraine’s participation in the EU-NATO military alliance, has contributed approximately €1 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including the Sampu-T air defense system, since the start of the conflict. ing.

Zelensky met with Pope Francis, who has been criticized by some Ukrainians for his reluctance to unequivocally condemn Russia’s all-out aggression. Pope Francis surprised many when he told reporters in early May that neither Kiev nor Moscow knew anything about it, but he was on a secret “peace mission”. .

Zelensky said he appreciates the pope’s interest in his plight. Over 19,000 Ukrainian children Taken to Russia, he also called on Pope Francis to hold Russia accountable and support Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan. The International Criminal Court announced earlier this year. Arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putinciting the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.

“There can be no equality between victims and perpetrators,” the Ukrainian president said. “I also talked about our peace formula as the only effective algorithm for just peace. I proposed to participate in its implementation.”

Additional report by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome

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