Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy touched down in Germany Sunday morning ahead of talks to secure new Western weaponry for his country and to shore up support among European allies.
“Already in Berlin,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter. “Weapons. Powerful package. Air defense. Reconstruction. EU. NATO. Security,” he added in reference to his priorities for the visit, which comes on the heels of meetings in Rome on Saturday with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis.
Signing a guest book ahead of meeting top German officials, Zelenskyy wrote that “together we will win and bring peace back to Europe,” hailing Berlin as a “true friend and reliable ally.”
Following talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, the two leaders are expected to fly to the city of Aachen, where Zelenskyy will collect the International Charlemagne Prize, awarded to him in December for the defense of “Europe and European values.”
Ukraine on Saturday said it had made a series of strategic gains around the town of Bakhmut, where its forces have faced a fierce Russian onslaught for weeks. According to CNN, U.S. officials believe Kyiv is conducting “shaping operations” to lay the foundations for a major counteroffensive to take back its territory.
Ahead of Zelenskyy’s visit to Berlin, the German government on Saturday announced a new package of military aid worth an estimated €2.7 billion, which will be the country’s largest delivery of arms to Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his all-out invasion in February 2022.
“We all wish for a speedy end to this terrible and illegal war,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said. “Unfortunately, this is not yet foreseeable.”
While Kyiv officials had previously hit out at Berlin over a reluctance to supply military hardware and its dependence on Russian oil and gas imports, the country has since emerged as one of the largest exporters of arms and armor to Ukraine.
The latest package includes 30 Leopard-1 A5 main battle tanks, four new IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft rocket launchers, dozens of armored personnel carriers and other combat vehicles, 18 self-propelled Howitzers and hundreds of unarmed recon drones.
Zelenskyy’s last visit to Germany, attending the Munich Security Conference in February 2022, came just days before Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. At the high-profile defense event, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris had warned that Europe faced “a decisive moment in history” and pledged support for Kyiv if Russia attacked.