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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 would provide €2.7bn of extra navy assist for Ukraine and construct a weapons manufacturing facility 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 big enchancment in bilateral ties after Kyiv, on the onset of the struggle, 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 would present the nation with extra weapons price €2.7bn to Ukraine. In line with the German defence ministry, Berlin has offered €4.2bn of navy assist since 2022.

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

The deliveries will embody 18 self-propelled howitzers, 4 IRIS-T SLM air defence techniques, 30 older Leopard 1 MBTs and 20 Marder infantry preventing automobiles, in addition to artillery munition. In a publish on Twitter, Zelenskyy referred to as the deal the “largest navy assist package deal 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 Pictures

Reflecting the improved ties, defence minister Boris Pistorius stated Germany would supply assist for “so long as its takes” to finish the “Russian struggle towards the Ukrainian folks”. 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 folks 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 dwelling 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 an alternative of Ukraine because of safety considerations.

Preventing 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 all 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 hitch the EU and Nato navy alliance, has contributed round €1bn in navy and humanitarian help to Ukraine because the begin of the battle, together with Samp-T air defence techniques. 

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 shocked 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 referred to as on Pope Francis to carry Russia to account and assist Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan. The Worldwide Legal Court docket earlier this yr introduced an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin, citing pressured deportations of Ukrainian youngsters.

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

Further reporting by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome