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Germany pledges 'unwavering' support as Zelenskyy visits

May 14, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Germany to meet with the nation's top leaders and receive the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen. This is his first visit since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a news conference at the German Chancellery in BerlinImage: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy flew to Berlin aboard a German military jet from Rome to meet President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday.

The trip marks his first visit to Germany since Russia launched its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz once again promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Germany would support his country "for as long as necessary."

Speaking at a news conference following talks between the pair in Berlin, Scholz said Germany had now committed €17 billion ($18.5 billion) in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

"We have close relations that will tie our countries for decades. In the face of [Russian] terror, we are moving closer together," Scholz added. "We are not only supporting Ukraine in humanitarian ways but also politically, financially and supplying weapons."

The ties between the two allied nations have indeed grown noticeably warmer in recent months. In the early stages of Russia's invasion, Ukraine's Ambassador Andrij Melnyk made waves by accusing Steinmeier of being too close to Russia and was forced to apologize after calling Olaf Scholz an "offended liver sausage." He has seen been replaced.

Both Scholz and German President Steinmeier have visited Kyiv since the start of the war.

Germany and Ukraine move closer together, Scholz says

This weekend, Germany pledged a new package of military aid worth more than €2.7 billion ($3 billion) to Kyiv.

"In the most challenging time in the modern history of Ukraine, Germany [is] proud to be our true friend and reliable ally," Zelenskyy wrote in the guest book of the German presidency. "Together we will win and bring peace back to Europe."

Scholz: "Europe is united and together."

Zelenskyy thanked Germany for "supporting our nation ... for every life that you have saved." The Ukrainian leader said Scholz had "shown leadership" that had "given all of us the opportunity to make the world a safer place."

German support for Ukraine 'unwavering'

In a joint statement published following talks between Scholz and Zelenskyy, Germany said it "remains unwavering in its commitment to Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The German government "supports Ukraine's initiative for a just and sustainable peace" while maintaining the country's territorial integrity, the statement said.

It added that the two sides have agreed on the need "to bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and other atrocities” and to "increase pressure on Russia and those who are supporting its war efforts through further sanctions."

Other highlights from the text include how Germany "strongly supports Ukraine in its reform efforts and in meeting the requirements needed to start [European Union] accession negotiations," and Berlin seeks through the NATO-Ukraine Commission "to further increase and expand the partnership" between the military alliance and Ukraine.

Zelenskyy: "Putin is the catastrophe."

Zelenskyy and Scholz fly to Aachen for Charlemagne Prize

After talks in Berlin, Zelenskyy and Scholz flew together to Aachen, where the Ukrainian leader accepted the Charlemagne Prize. This non-monetary and largely symbolic award was established in 1950 to celebrate efforts toward European unification.

The prize was awarded to the president and the Ukrainian people in December for fighting not only for their country "but also Europe and European values."

Zelenskyy thanked the audience for their support in his acceptance speech, telling them that he was accepting the prize on behalf of the Ukrainian people who were fighting daily to preserve the values of Europe.

The Ukrainian leader is expected in Paris later this evening. 

dh/dj (dpa, Reuters)