Selenskyj comes to Germany on Sunday

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, gives a press conference alongside the President of the European Commission.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, gives a press conference alongside the President of the European Commission. © picture alliance/dpa/AP

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj will visit Germany this weekend for the first time since the Russian attack on his country. Government circles in Berlin confirmed to the German Press Agency on Saturday that the visit will take place on Sunday. The President’s exact program has not yet been published for security reasons. Shortly before the arrival, the German government sent the Ukrainian President a welcome message: it promised him more weapons worth 2.7 billion euros for the defensive fight against the troops of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Selenskyj was last in Germany a few days before the start of the war for the Munich Security Conference in February 2022. For the first ten months after the Russian invasion, he didn’t leave the country at all. He changed that at the end of last year. In the meantime he has been to Washington, Warsaw, Paris, London, Brussels, Helsinki and The Hague. He arrived in Rome on Saturday to meet Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Arrival time still open – Charlemagne Prize Ceremony in Aachen

From there he will travel on to Germany – whether on Saturday evening or only on Sunday morning initially remained open. In the afternoon, the Charlemagne Prize for European Merit will be presented in Aachen, which was awarded to Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people in December. A visit to Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin could be preceded. There has been speculation about this since an indiscretion by the Berlin police a week ago.

The advance of the police endangered the visit, because Zelenskyj’s trips abroad are usually kept secret until the last minute for security reasons. This also explains the reluctance of the federal government to announce the program of visits.

30 Leopard and 20 Marder tanks for Ukraine

The visit on Saturday was prepared with the promise of further military support for Ukraine. Among other things, 20 more Marder armored personnel carriers, 30 Leopard 1 tanks and four Iris-T SLM anti-aircraft systems are to be provided by the German defense industry, as the Ministry of Defense announced. In addition, the Ukrainian Armed Forces will receive 18 wheeled howitzers, ammunition for artillery and air defense systems, more than 100 armored combat vehicles and over 200 reconnaissance drones. However, some weapon deliveries from the package have been planned for a long time.

In a keynote address to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Scholz assured Ukraine of continued support for the defense against the Russian attackers. “Let’s remain steadfast in our support of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said.

Pistorius affirms: “As long as it takes”

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) confirmed this on Saturday when the new weapons package was announced: “With this valuable contribution of urgently needed military material, we are showing once again that Germany is serious about its support.” it can afford – as long as it takes”.

According to its own statements, the federal government has already approved weapons and military equipment worth 2.75 billion euros for Ukraine since the Russian attack on Ukraine. There is also other material that does not require approval. According to Pistorius, the aid adds up to “just over four billion euros”.

Leopard 1 delivery approved as early as February

Now weapons and equipment worth another 2.7 billion euros are added. However, obviously not all commitments listed by the Department of Defense are new. A list published on the Internet by the Federal Government on April 26 of the planned deliveries of weapons already contains 18 wheeled howitzers, for example. 108 reconnaissance drones and two other Iris-T-SLM air defense systems are also listed there.

The federal government already approved the export of the Leopard 1A5 tanks in February. During a visit to Kiev, Pistorius announced the delivery of more than 100 copies from Germany and other countries by mid-2024. The Leopard 1 is the first main battle tank built for the German Army after World War II. Of the more modern Leopard 2A6 tanks, Ukraine received 18 from Germany at the end of March.

The Iris-T SLM air defense system is one of the militarily most valuable weapons with which Germany has supported Ukraine. So far, two examples of the system developed by the Diehl armaments company and other partners have been delivered, which can defend entire cities against attacks from the air.

Klitschko praises Scholz – “Historical package”

Much praise came from Ukraine for the new commitments. “What I really like about this package is that Germany is taking the lead,” Selenskyj adviser Mykhailo Podoljak told Welt am Sonntag. The decision shows “that Germany understands the moment in history, that the right decisions must be made now”.

Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko expressly praised the chancellor. “With this historic package, Olaf Scholz is demonstrating that military support will continue as long as it is necessary,” Klitschko told the newspaper. “When I think that before the war started, over 5,000 helmets were still being discussed, the German government has made an impressive development and has become one of Ukraine’s most important friends.”

German population divided on arms deliveries

The German population is divided on the issue of arms deliveries. In a survey by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the German Press Agency, 39 percent said that too many weapons and other armaments had already been delivered to Ukraine. 28 percent agree with the amount so far and 17 percent believe that Ukraine needs even more military support.

In the case of the currently controversial delivery of fighter jets of Western design, however, the rejection prevails. 49 percent are against, only 31 percent for it. Ukraine wants American F16 aircraft, which the Bundeswehr doesn’t have. However, the Ukrainian government hopes that Germany, as one of the most powerful NATO countries, will support its demand. Scholz has so far rejected the delivery of Western-style fighter jets as not sensible.


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