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Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy thanks Italy's Meloni in Rome

May 14, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for her financial and military support for Ukraine. Germany has announced billions in new military aid to Ukraine. DW has the latest.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni greets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Italy's far-right PM has vowed support for Ukraine, despite criticism towards Kyiv from other conservativesImage: Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo/picture alliance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy embarked on a crucial diplomatic mission to Italy and the Vatican Saturday, where he held talks with senior officials in the Italian government and the Roman Catholic Church.

Upon his arrival, Zelenskyy tweeted that it was "an important visit for approaching victory of Ukraine."

In Rome, Zelenskyy had separate meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Meloni promised Italy's full support to Ukraine in its efforts to repel Russia's "brutal and unjust aggression." Speaking alongside Zelenskyy, she said Italy would continue to supply Ukraine with weapons and back his country for as long as necessary. 

"We are betting on Ukraine's victory," Meloni added. The Italian prime minister also restated her backing of Ukraine's EU bid.

In a joint press conference, Zelenskyy thanked Meloni "for helping to save lives."

The Ukrainian leader's trip marks his first visit to Italy since Russia launched its full-scale invasion early last year.

Italy promises full support for Ukraine

Here are some of the other notable developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, May 13:

Zelenskyy asks Pope Francis for stronger condemnation of Russia

Following his talks with Mattarella and Meloni, Zelenskyy headed to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis.

"I'm grateful for his personal attention to the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter. "I spoke about tens of thousands of deported children." 

"In addition, I asked Pope Francis to condemn Russian crimes in Ukraine. Because there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor," he added, saying that he'd also asked the head of the Catholic Church to support Kyiv's 10-point peace plan.

Zelenskyy held private talks with the Pope at the Vatican on Saturday
Zelenskyy held private talks with the Pope at the Vatican on SaturdayImage: Vatican News/AP Photo/picture alliance

"The pope assured his constant prayer, paid witness to by his many public appeals and by his continued invoking of the Lord for peace, since February of last year,'' the Vatican said.

The pope had hinted to journalists that a Vatican "mission" to try to end the war was currently underway, a statement to which both Moscow and Kyiv publicly expressed surprise. The Vatican has maintained that something is in the works without providing any specifics. The 86-year-old pontiff has repeatedly called for peace and offered to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow,

Earlier this week, Francis met with Russia's outgoing ambassador to the Vatican, Alexander Avdeev. Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported the Vatican may have given Avdeyev a letter for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow says Russian forces advancing inside Bakhmut

Russian Defense Ministry said that its forces were still pushing inside the frontline town of Bakhmut and had wrested control of an area in the eastern Ukrainian city.

"In the Donetsk direction, assault detachments liberated a block in the northwestern part of the city of Artemovsk," the defense ministry said, referring to Bakhmut by its Russian name.

Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian military commander said that Kyiv's forces were advancing along parts of the front line against Russian forces near Bakhmut.

"Our soldiers are moving forward in some areas of the front, and the enemy is losing equipment and manpower," Commander of Ukrainian ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on social media.

Russian helicopter and warplane crash in Bryansk region

A military helicopter and fighter jet both crashed in the Russian region of Bryansk, according to Russian media reports. It was not immediately clear what caused the crashes. 

The helicopter crashed in an uninhabited area near the town of Klinsty, the Russian state news agency TASS reported. Videos posted on social media appeared to show the helicopter exploding before it fell to the ground in flames. 

TASS later reported the crash of a Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter jet in the same region. The circumstances of the crash were not immediately clear. 

Russian media reported that both people aboard the two-seat Mi-8 helicopter were dead, although there has been no official confirmation from the Russian government. 

Germany to send Ukraine €2.7 billion military aid package

Germany has promised Ukraine further arms deliveries worth €2.7 billion ($2.95 billion) ahead of a possible visit to Germany by President Zelenskyy, the German Defense Ministry said Saturday.

According to the ministry, the package, which is Germany's biggest yet, includes 20 more Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 30 Leopard-1 tanks and four IRIS-T-SLM air defense systems.

"We all hope for a rapid end to this terrible war by Russia against the Ukrainian people, but unfortunately this is not in sight. This is why Germany will supply all the help that it can, for as long as necessary," Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in a statement.

Germany last year provided Ukraine with military support worth €2 billion and had earmarked €2.2 billion for this year, though details had not yet been finalized.

Zelenskyy: Russia has lost the 'war in their minds'

In his nightly address on Friday, Zelenskyy said Russians were "already internally ready for defeat."

"They have already lost this war in their minds. We must put pressure on them every day so that their sense of defeat turns into their flight, their mistakes, their losses," he said.

Ukraine claims to have retaken swaths of ground from Russian forces near Bakhmut, the scene of the war's longest and bloodiest battle.

Moscow acknowledged on Friday that its forces had fallen back north of the city.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia's private Wagner mercenary group that has led the campaign in Bakhmut, said in an audio message that what Moscow described, "unfortunately, is called 'a rout' and not a regrouping."

G7 finance leaders to warn of global uncertainty

The finance leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) wealthiest nations are poised to conclude a three-day meeting in Japan with a warning of increased economic uncertainty.

"The global economy has shown resilience against multiple shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, and associated inflationary pressures," the leaders will say in a final draft of a communique seen by the Reuters news agency.

"We need to remain vigilant and stay agile and flexible in our macroeconomic policy amid heightened uncertainty about the global economic outlook."

More DW coverage on Russia's war in Ukraine

South Africa's Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the US ambassador to meet over allegations he made a day earlier about the country supplying arms to Russia for the war in Ukraine. 

A student with an anti-war slogan, a vocational school founder who doesn't want to recruit for the military: some people in Russia are still demonstrating opposition to the war in Ukraine. They're taking huge risks in doing so, DW's Juri Rescheto reports in the video below.

Russia's silent protest against war

ab,dh,lo/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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