Zelensky calls Germany a 'true friend' after latter sends new package
This comes ahead of an anticipated ceremony to award the Ukrainian president in Aachen with the Charlemagne Prize for 'European unity'.
Germany was labeled a "true friend and reliable ally" by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, after Germany sent a massive military package for Ukraine during Zelensky's visit to Berlin.
His trip followed his meetings in Rome with Italian leaders and the pope, while Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive. However, when Pope Francis offered to help Zelensky negotiate with Russia to achieve a sustainable peace plan, the Ukrainian President rejected it.
“With all due respect to His Holiness," Zelensky told Italian talk show host Bruno Vespa following his meeting with the pontiff, "we don’t need mediators, we need a just peace."
Moreover, the Ukrainian President said "It was an honor for me to meet His Holiness, but he knows my position: the war is in Ukraine and the [peace] plan must be Ukrainian,” claiming “You can’t mediate with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”
In a guestbook entry at the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's official residence, he wrote, "In the most challenging time in the modern history of Ukraine, Germany proved to be our true friend and reliable ally, which stands decisively side-by-side with the Ukrainian people in the struggle to defend freedom and democratic values".
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"Together we will win and bring peace back to Europe," he added, before heading into the residence for talks with the president.
According to Der Spiegel on Saturday, the German government decided to equip Ukraine with more weaponry worth 2.7 billion euros (almost $3 billion), which will be Berlin's greatest military support package to Kiev.
It stated that Berlin intends to supply Ukraine with 20 Marder infantry combat vehicles, 30 Leopard 1 tanks, up to 200 reconnaissance drones, Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles, extra IRIS-T anti-aircraft missiles, artillery rounds, and transporters.
Der Spiegel described this shipment as Germany's largest armaments supply to Ukraine since the commencement of the war in February 2022.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz greeted Zelensky with military honors before joining the talks, as he is expected to head to the western German city of Aachen for a ceremony to award both Zelensky and the Ukrainian people the Charlemagne prize, which is awarded for European unification services.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki are also anticipated to attend the ceremony as well.
On March 13, the representative of the German army in parliament, Eva Hoegl, warned that the military "lacks everything", slamming Scholz for failing to fulfill his promise to replenish the Bundeswehr's arms stocks, which he handed over to Ukraine.
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