Ukraine has secured a record €2.7bn deal with Germany for military aid following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s visit to Berlin on Sunday, May 14.
Zelenskiy is on a European tour, meeting with the leaders of Italy, Germany, France and the UK as Ukraine garners further support ahead of its planned counteroffensive. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorious confirmed that Germany “will provide any help it can – as long as it takes”, Ukraine Business News reported on May 15.
The giant package, Germany’s largest since the start of the full-scale invasion, includes 18 wheeled howitzers, artillery ammunition, guided missiles for air defence systems, 4 IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft missile launchers for air defence, 12 IRIS-T SLS launchers, more battle and infantry fighting vehicles (30 Leopard 1 A5 and 20 Marder), over 100 armoured combat vehicles and over 200 reconnaissance drones.
Speaking about the much-anticipated counteroffensive, Zelenskiy told a press conference in Berlin that Ukraine is “almost ready” although more weapons are still needed. “A few more visits (to European capitals) – that’s it,” he said, Ukrainian Pravda reported.
Zelenskiy also expressed hope that Berlin would join in support for Ukraine’s Nato application as well as reconstruction efforts and the next round of Russian sanctions. He also emphasised the need to overturn limitations of the types of weapons supplied to Ukraine.
Following his visit to Berlin, Zelenskiy met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in the evening. In addition to garnering further weaponry, the Ukrainian leader wants to form an air-coalition, in a bid for Western-made fighter jets.
So far, his request not been met, but Paris announced it is “focusing its effort in supporting Ukraine’s air defence capacities” as Russia continues to launch a tirade of missiles, likely in an attempt to undermine Kyiv’s counteroffensive capabilities, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted.
“The alleged targets and limited nature of this campaign indicates that Russian forces are immediately concerned with current Ukrainian capabilities to launch counter offensive operations, although the diminished effectiveness of these strikes are likely not significantly constraining Ukrainian capabilities writ large,” the ISW wrote.
In addition to air defence, France will train and equip several battalions with tens of armoured vehicles and light tanks, including AMX-10RC, over the coming weeks.
The day before, Zelenskiy arrived in Rome where Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni pledged full military and financial support for Ukraine as well as endorsing its EU membership. Meloni previously signed off on a €1bn package for humanitarian and infrastructure needs at the Rome reconstruction conference last month.
The Ukrainian leader also had a 40-minute conversation with Pope France, asking him to support Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan and presenting him with a bulletproof vest with a painting of the Virgin Mary used by a Ukrainian soldier. The Vatican also confirmed its willingness to help return the estimated 19,500 Ukrainian children taken to Russia.