© Reuters. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at Bellevue palace in Berlin, Germany, Might 14, 2023. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
By Pavel Polityuk and Sarah Marsh
KYIV/BERLIN (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated on Sunday Kyiv and its allies might make a Russian defeat “irreversible” as early as this yr as he secured a bumper new navy bundle on a visit to Germany.
The go to shaped a part of a whirlwind weekend tour of a number of key European allies to drum up navy and monetary help forward of an anticipated main Ukrainian counter-offensive in opposition to Russian forces.
It was the Ukrainian chief’s first go to to Germany since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, He additionally met Italian officers and Pope Francis in Rome on Saturday and was due in Paris in a while Sunday for a dinner assembly with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Now could be the time for us to find out the top of the conflict already this yr, we will make the aggressor’s defeat irreversible already this yr,” Zelenskiy stated throughout a joint information convention in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Scholz underscored Germany’s pledge to proceed to help Ukraine for so long as crucial, brushing apart a query about earlier tensions in bilateral relations and side-stepping one other query about Kyiv’s hopes to affix NATO.
Germany, which is Europe’s largest financial system, confronted criticism initially of the conflict for what some known as a hesitant response, however it has grow to be certainly one of Ukraine’s largest suppliers of economic and navy help.
The German authorities introduced a 2.7 billion euro ($3 billion) bundle of navy assist to Ukraine on Saturday, its largest such bundle since Russia’s invasion.
Zelenskiy stated Kyiv was ready to debate exterior peace initiatives however stated these proposals ought to be based mostly on Ukraine’s place and its peace plan.
“The conflict is going on on the territory of our nation and so any peace plan will probably be based mostly on Ukraine’s proposals,” he stated, sporting his trademark khaki fight trousers and a black sweater.
Kyiv has dominated out the concept of any territorial concessions to Russia and has stated it desires each inch of its land again. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and since final yr has claimed to have annexed 4 different Ukrainian areas, which Moscow now calls Russian land.
“Ukraine is prepared for peace. Nevertheless it calls for, rightly and with our help, that this can’t imply to freeze the conflict and have a type of dictated peace by Russia,” stated Scholz.
Zelenskiy’s go to got here as Russia’s Defence Ministry stated on Sunday that two of its navy commanders have been killed in japanese Ukraine, as Kyiv’s forces renewed efforts to interrupt via Russian defences within the metropolis of Bakhmut that has been the main target of months of bloody preventing.
Zelenskiy left open the prospect of a “danger that if the (counter)offensive is just not very profitable that there will probably be much less help, however I do not suppose that is the final view”.
“There are some international locations which can be interested by it, however I do not suppose they have been very robust of their help for Ukraine all through this era,” he added, with out specifying which international locations might waver of their backing for Ukraine.
Zelenskiy visited Germany for the Munich Safety Council in February final yr, simply earlier than the conflict broke out. Germany was constrained in its help for Ukraine at the moment each by its vitality dependence on Russia and the pacifism that emerged from its bloody twentieth century historical past.
Rising its help required a serious coverage upheaval and a shift in mindset that Scholz dubbed a “Zeitenwende”, or flip of period, in a landmark speech simply days after the conflict broke out.
Throughout his journey to Germany Zelenskiy additionally travelled with Scholz to the western metropolis of Aachen to obtain the celebrated Charlemagne Prize in honour of providers to Europe at a ceremony attended by European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
In a speech on the ceremony, Scholz gave Germany’s “full help” to Ukraine’s journey in the direction of membership of the European Union.