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China Daily Global / 2023-05 / 15 / Page007

Zelensky visits Berlin to discuss military package

China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-05-15 00:00

Ukraine president meets German counterpart; antimissile systems, tanks and drones offered

BERLIN — Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky held talks on Sunday with his German counterpart at the start of his first visit to Germany since the Ukraine crisis began, with Berlin offering support in the form of a huge new military package.

"Already in Berlin," Zelensky wrote on Twitter. "Weapons. Powerful package. Air defense. Reconstruction. EU. NATO. Security."

Zelensky's trip came after a day of meetings in Rome with Italian leaders and Pope Francis.

Ukrainian forces have been training a new contingent of forces and stockpiling Western-supplied munitions and hardware that analysts say will be key to reclaiming territory captured by Russia.

Zelensky was greeted by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Bellevue Palace, where he signed the guest book before the pair headed into talks.

The Ukrainian leader's schedule for Germany has not yet been officially confirmed but he was expected to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz later on Sunday.

He may also head to the western German city of Aachen, which this year is awarding him and the Ukrainian people the Charlemagne prize, an honor awarded for efforts to foster European unity.

Bild daily said Zelensky's flight to Aachen on a German government plane would be secured by the air force.

Scholz, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki are due to attend the ceremony in Aachen.

In a clear show of its backing for Kyiv, Berlin on Saturday said it would send Ukraine more firing units and launchers for the Iris-T antimissile system, 30 additional Leopard 1 tanks, more than 100 armored combat vehicles and more than 200 surveillance drones.

High-tech German-made Leopard 2A6 tanks sought by Kyiv have already been put to use on the front lines, Bundeswehr chief Carsten Breuer had confirmed during a recent trip to Ukraine.

Zelensky's visit also came before a G7 summit scheduled to be held in Hiroshima, Japan, starting on Friday, during which the G7 industrial powers and the European Union will ban Russian gas imports on routes where Moscow has cut supplies, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing officials involved in the negotiations.

The decision, to be finalized by G7 leaders at the summit, will prevent the resumption of Russian pipeline gas exports on routes to countries such as Poland and Germany, where Moscow cut off supplies last year, the newspaper said.

On the front lines, near the eastern flashpoint town of Bakhmut, both sides claimed to be making progress.

"Our soldiers are moving forward in some areas of the front, and the enemy is losing equipment and manpower," commander of the Ukrainian ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on social media.

Russia said its forces were still pushing inside Bakhmut.

"In the Donetsk direction, assault detachments liberated a block in the northwestern part of the city of Artemovsk," the defense ministry said, referring to Bakhmut by its Russian name.

Western allies have delivered increasingly powerful weapons to Ukraine. Britain last week announced it was sending Storm Shadow missiles, becoming the first country to send longer-range arms to Kyiv.


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