Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Berlin early Sunday for talks with German leaders about further arms deliveries to help his country fend off the Russian invasion and rebuild what’s been destroyed by more than a year of devastating conflict.
A Luftwaffe jet flew Zelensky to the German capital from Rome, where he had met Saturday with Pope Francis and Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni.
On the eve of his arrival — which took place amid tight security — the German government announced a new package of military aid for Ukraine with aid worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems and ammunition.
“Already in Berlin. Weapons. Powerful package. Air defense. Reconstruction. EU. NATO. Security,” Zelensky tweeted Sunday, in an apparent reference to the key priorities of his trip.
After initially hesitating to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons, Germany has become one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Ukraine, including Leopard 1 and 2 battle tanks, and the sophisticated IRIS-T SLM air-defense system. Modern Western hardware is considered crucial if Ukraine is to succeed in its planned counteroffensive against Russian troops.
After meeting Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other senior officials at the chancellery, the two leaders are expected to fly to the western city of Aachen for Zelensky to receive the International Charlemagne Prize awarded to him and the people of Ukraine.
Organizers say the award recognizes that their resistance against Russia’s invasion is a defense “not just of the sovereignty of their country and the life of its citizens, but also of Europe and European values.”