German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) bids farewell to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) as he departs Bellevue Palace in Berlin on May 14, 2023.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Germany for its support on Sunday after meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was visiting the country for the first time since the Russian invasion.
President Zelensky arrived in Berlin from Rome and met separately with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis on Saturday. The pope said the Vatican will help repatriate Ukrainian children kidnapped by the Russians.
He flew over Germany in a German government plane escorted by Luftwaffe fighters, arriving late at night.
“Germany is proud to be a true friend and reliable ally in the most difficult period in Ukraine’s modern history,” Zelensky wrote in a guestbook of the German presidential office. “Together we will win and restore peace to Europe.”
Zelensky was then scheduled to travel to Aachen, West Germany, to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Security Minister, before receiving the prestigious Charlemagne Award for his service to Europe.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, was criticized for its reluctance at the outset of the war, but is now one of Ukraine’s largest donors of financial and military aid.
The government on Saturday announced €2.7 billion ($3 billion) in military aid to Ukraine, the largest since Russia’s invasion last February, and pledged further aid to Kiev as long as needed.
In a tweet, President Zelensky hailed it as a “strong package” and suggested that he aimed to discuss not only weapons supply but also air defense, reconstruction, Ukraine’s EU membership candidate and security with German officials. .
Zelensky’s last visit to Germany for the Munich Security Council was in February last year, just before the start of the war.
At the time Germany was constrained in its aid to Ukraine both by its reliance on Russia for energy and its pacifism rooted in the bloody history of the 20th century.
This would require a major shift in policy and a shift in thinking, which Mr. Scholz called “Zeitenwende,” or a shift in time, in a landmark speech just days after the war began.
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