Zelensky lands in France in pursuit of further pressure on Russia
In his second visit to France, Zelensky discusses various affairs regarding the Ukraine war with his French counterpart.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky landed in Paris on Sunday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron after having accepted a prize for Kiev's fight for "European ideals" during a visit to Germany.
"Paris. With each visit, Ukraine's defense and offensive capabilities are expanding," Zelensky tweeted as he arrived on Sunday evening at the airbase of Villacoublay southwest of Paris.
Furthermore, according to the Ukrainian leader, relations with Europe "are getting stronger, and the pressure on Russia is growing."
Shortly afterward, Macron welcomed his Ukrainian counterpart to the Elysee Palace for the second time since the start of the Ukraine war.
The French leader's office said the two heads of state would discuss France's "support" in responding to "Ukraine's urgent military and humanitarian needs" during a dinner at the presidential palace.
Moreover, the statement said Macron would "reaffirm the unwavering support of France and Europe for restoring Ukraine's legitimate rights and defend its fundamental interests."
Zelensky landed in Paris just hours after EU leaders in Germany lauded the Ukrainian people for fighting for the bloc's freedom and values, handing this year's award for "service towards European unity" to Zelensky.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said at the Charlemagne award ceremony in the western city of Aachen that Ukraine "incarnates everything the European idea is living for: the courage of convictions, the fight for values and freedom, the commitment to peace and unity."
"President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine are fighting for the values and the obligation that this prize embodies. And in doing so, they are also fighting for our own freedom and our values," she added.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russia's war on its neighbor made it crystal clear that "Ukraine is part of our European family."
In light of the event, Zelensky said Germany was a "true friend and reliable ally" of Ukraine.
This came after 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, a Der Spiegel report said.
The article said the German Chancellor's office and other ministries agreed during covert discussions to give Ukraine "additional weapons worth about 2.7 billion euros" in the next weeks and months.
The publication revealed 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.
German media announced in early May that Zelensky would visit Berlin on May 13 at the request of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. According to the T-Online news site, Ukraine was very displeased that details of Zelensky's visit were made public and was considering canceling the trip over security concerns.
Earlier, EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell said the conflict in Ukraine could end immediately if the West and its allies decide to halt the provision of military support to Kiev. Doing so, however, would result in Ukraine's loss of sovereignty, he says.
"I know how to end the war immediately: I stop providing military assistance to Ukraine, and Ukraine has to surrender in a few days. That's it, the war is over," Borrell said, noting that the end result would lead into Ukraine becoming "a puppet country, like Belarus, deprived of its freedoms."
As of February 2023, the EU and US have announced more than $120 billion in aid to Ukraine, including state-of-the-art weapons and armory.
The US is currently preparing to announce another $1.2 billion military aid package to Ukraine, a week after the US' last announcement of a package of $300 million, which, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, included heavy artillery and ammunition, anti-tank weaponry, and other field equipment.