Germany on Saturday announced its largest package of military aid for Kyiv worth $2.95 billion, Berlin’s largest since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.
According to Defense Post, the massive arms package includes 30 Leopard 1 tanks, Marder fighting vehicles, air-defense systems, and surveillance drones. The announcement came a day before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Berlin.
“I thank Germany for the largest military aid package since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter. “German air defense systems, artillery, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles are saving Ukrainian lives and bringing us closer to victory.”
Meeting with Zelensky in Berlin, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will support Ukraine “for as long as it is necessary.” The aid package is seen as a gesture to show the German government’s staunch support for Kyiv, as Scholz’s government has come under criticism for previously being hesitant to send heavy weapons, such as tanks.
Last year, Scholz said he wouldn’t arm Ukraine with tanks and planes because he was trying to prevent nuclear war. But his concern of escalation has waned, and dozens of German Leopard tanks have been delivered to Ukraine. Scholz’s government also approved Poland’s delivery of Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine that originally belonged to Germany.
Germany and its NATO allies have yet to pledge Western-made aircraft for Ukraine. While in Berlin, Zelensky said he was seeking Western jets during his tour of European capitals. “We’re now working on creating a coalition of fighter jets… today I will appeal to the German side to support Ukraine in this coalition,” he said.