Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed today (Sunday) his gratitude to Germany for its support for his country in the face of Russia, while the German Chancellor pledged to support Kiev “as long as necessary.”
The Ukrainian president wrote in English in the guest book, after being received by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Bellevue Presidential Palace in Germany: “In the darkest times in the modern history of Ukraine, Germany has proved to be our true friend and reliable ally standing firmly on the side of the Ukrainian people in the struggle for Defending freedom and democratic values.
And the Ukrainian president continued: “We will be victorious, and restore peace to Europe.” He expressed his personal gratitude to the German president for his support, and wrote: “Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your personal support for Ukraine and your hospitality,” according to what was broadcast by the German news agency.
Zelensky also thanked the German people for their “wonderful solidarity,” and added in German: “Thank you, Germany.”
Zelensky arrived this morning, in a motorcade, to Bellevue Palace in the German capital, coming from Rome, to hold talks with his German counterpart. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Zelensky are scheduled to travel together from Berlin to the western German city of Aachen, where Zelensky and the Ukrainian people will be honored with the prestigious Charlemagne Prize at a ceremony this afternoon.
“We will support you as long as necessary,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during his meeting with the Ukrainian President at the Chancellery’s office in Berlin, noting that 17 billion euros in aid has been provided to Ukraine so far.
Schultz went on to say that for 444 days, “Russia’s merciless war of aggression against Ukraine” has been going on, adding that the war has great geopolitical consequences, and that it particularly affects the citizens of Ukraine. The German chancellor added that his country would fully support the refugees, and said: “This solidarity will be continuous and strong.”
On Saturday, the German government announced that it was preparing to deliver weapons worth 2.7 billion euros to Ukraine, including 30 Leopard 1 tanks, armored vehicles, drones, air defense systems, missiles and ammunition.
A Ukrainian presidential advisor welcomed this support. But Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Andrej Melnik, said it was not enough.
For his part, the former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany declared on “Welt TV” channel, “It is unfortunate that most of the promised defense systems are outdated (…) It is also disappointing that the German government insists on its refusal (…) to deliver fighters. This ban must be lifted quickly.”
Relations between Kiev and Berlin have long been tense over military aid, with Germany criticized for being too indecisive and reticent. But it has consolidated its support in recent months.
On Thursday, Zelensky announced on the BBC that he “still needs a little extra time” to launch the spring offensive to avoid heavy casualties and a breach in the Russian lines.
Kiev wants to recover lands in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk (east), Kherson and Zaporizhia (south), and Moscow has announced its annexation.
On Saturday, the Ukrainian president met Pope Francis in the Vatican and thanked him for the “attention he gives” to the “tragedy of millions of Ukrainians”.
He also met Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who assured him of her “full and complete support to facilitate Kiev’s gradual accession to the European Union.”
On the ground, the Ukrainian army confirmed, on Saturday, “progress” in the vicinity of Bakhmut, where battles are taking place with Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, while Moscow confirmed its continuation of its progress in the city, which is mainly under its control and has been largely destroyed.
The battle of Bakhmut is the bloodiest and longest since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.