Germany will provide Ukraine with additional military aid worth nearly $3 billion, including tanks, air defense systems and ammunition, the government announced ahead of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Berlin. .
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Saturday that Berlin wanted to show, with its latest military aid package worth 2.7 billion euros ($2.95 billion), “that Germany is really serious full support” for Ukraine.
“Germany will provide all possible help in time of need,” he said.
Although initially slow to provide military aid to KievGermany has since become one of the largest arms suppliers to Ukraine, mainly giving the green light to the supply of modern battle tanks in the form of its own Leopard 1 and 2 models, along with other sophisticated air defense systems needed to fend off drone and missile attacks.
The new military aid package, first reported by the German weekly Der Spiegel, includes 30 Leopard 1 A5 tanks, 20 Marder armored personnel carriers, more than 100 combat vehicles, and 18 self-propelled howitzers , 200 reconnaissance drones, 4 IRIS-T SLM anti-tank missiles. aircraft systems and other air defense equipment.
German support comes as Ukrainian military commanders say their troops have recapture important territory from Russian forces near the destroyed eastern city of Bakhmut, which became the symbolic focus of the struggle between Kiev and Moscow, where their forces fought for months in bloody urban warfare.
Zelenskyy confirmed his arrival in Germany early Sunday morning – his first visit since Russia launched an invasion last year – in a tweet.
“Was in Berlin,” Zelenskyy wrote in a tweet. “Weapons. Powerful package. Air Force air defense. reconstruction. EU. NATO. Protect.”
Been in Berlin. weapon. Powerful package. Air Force air defense. reconstruction. EU. NATO. Protect.
— олодимир (@ZelenskyyUa) May 13, 2023
Zelenskyy traveled to Berlin after meeting several Italian leaders and Pope Francis in Italy on Saturday. A German Luftwaffe jet brought Zelenskyy to the German capital from Rome.
The Ukrainian leader spent 40 minutes with the 86-year-old pope at the Vatican after an earlier meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
“I am very grateful to him for his personal concern for the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram after his audience with the pope. He said they also discussed the fate of “tens of thousands of children” whom Kiev says have been deported to Russia, as well as his peace plan.
The Vatican, which did not mention Russia, said the pair discussed the “humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine due to the ongoing war” and the need for “human gestures towards those wishing to most fragile”.
Francis has repeatedly called for peace in Ukraine and sought to play a mediator role, although his efforts have yet to bear fruit and he has faced criticism for not blaming Russia about the war.
Zelenskyy had 70 minutes face-to-face with Meloni, who has pledged Italy’s full support to Kiev despite a history of warm relations with Moscow in her country – and between her coalition partners. . During a joint press conference, Zelenskyy thanked Meloni “for helping to save lives” and detailed what he called Russia’s new acts of aggression.
“I didn’t come to complain, I came to talk about our cooperation and thank you again for helping us, for the sake of our country, because we want peace.” he said.
Italy has sent weapons and aid to Kiev, although it has never disclosed exactly what it has delivered. Meloni, who visited Kyiv in February, said on Saturday: “I believe Ukraine will be victorious and reborn stronger, prouder and more prosperous than before.”
The Ukrainian leader is expected to receive the prestigious Charlemagne Prize at a ceremony on Sunday afternoon in the western German city of Aachen, German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.
After meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other senior officials at the chancellery, Zelenskyy and Scholz are scheduled to fly to Aachen.
The International Charlemagne Prize was presented to both Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine in December and will now be presented in the hands of the president.
The Charlemagne Prize, a non-monetary and largely symbolic award, was established in 1950 to honor efforts towards European unification.
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and two of her colleagues received the award last year.