BERLIN — Germany will provide Ukraine with nearly $3 billion worth of additional military aid, including tanks, anti-aircraft systems and ammunition, the government said Saturday.
The announcement came on the eve of Ukraine of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy first visit to Germany since Russia invaded his country last year.
Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Berlin wanted to show with the latest arms package «that Germany is serious about supporting» Ukraine.
«Germany will provide all the help it can, for as long as it takes,» he said.
The visit is seen in Berlin as a sign that relations between Ukraine and Germany have improved markedly after a rough patch.
kyiv has long been suspicious of Germany’s reliance on Russian energy and support for Nord Stream gas pipelines that bypass Ukraine. championed by then Chancellor Angela Merkel.
His successor, Olaf Scholz, agreed to phase out Russian energy imports after the invasion, but was initially hesitant to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons, fearing Germany could be drawn into the conflict.
With Washington, Warsaw and London more openly supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself, Berlin received kyiv’s cold diplomatic shoulder.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was uninvited from Ukraine last year, causing annoyance in Germanywhich noted that it had provided considerable financial assistance to kyiv and welcomed more than a million Ukrainian refugees. Scholz finally visited Kyiv with French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders in June.
Though slow to provide military aid, Germany has since become one of the largest arms suppliers to Ukraine, crucially giving the green light for the delivery of modern battle tanks like its own Leopard 1 and 2, along with the sophisticated anti-aircraft systems needed to fend off missile and drone attacks.
The new military aid package, first reported by the German weekly Der Spiegel, it includes 30 Leopard 1 A5 tanks, 20 Marder armored personnel carriers, more than 100 combat vehicles, 18 self-propelled howitzers, 200 reconnaissance drones, four IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft systems and other air defense equipment. It comes after Ukrainian military commanders said their troops recaptured more territory from Russian forces near the eastern city of Bakhmut amid speculation about a possible Kiev counteroffensive.
The Ukrainian president would arrive from Rome, where he would meet on Saturday with Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Berlin police imposed a security cordon across much of the capital’s government district on Sunday.
After meeting with Scholz and other senior foreign ministry officials, the two leaders are expected to fly to the western city of Aachen for Zelenskyy to receive the International Charlemagne Prize. awarded to him and the people of Ukraine.
Organizers say the prize recognizes that their resistance against the Russian invasion is a defense «not only of the sovereignty of their country and the lives of their citizens, but also of Europe and European values.»
Zelenskiy last visited Berlin in July 2021. He too attended the Munich Security Conference the following February, days before Russia launched its full-scale attack on Ukraine.