President Zelenskyy’s Multi-Stop European Tour
In May, President Zelenskyy decided to meet officials in Rome, Berlin, Paris, and London to secure more support for Ukraine in the fight against Russia. The objective of Zelenskyy’s European tour was to replenish Kyiv’s depleted weaponry supplies ahead of the spring offensive that is aimed at changing the course of the war.
In Rome, Zelenskyy met with Italia’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis. Italian Prime Minister promised full financial and military support for Kyiv for as long as necessary. Meloni also condemned Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine as brutal and unjust and called for immediate Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. Prime Minister declared that „you cannot achieve peace through surrender. It would be a very grave precedent for all nations of the world.“ Meloni also emphasised the importance of Ukraine’s membership of the EU and strengthening its partnership with NATO.
Afterwards, Zelenskyy held private talks with Pope Francis in the Vatican. Zelenskyy expressed his support for Pontiff’s peace plan, which tried in the past to put an end to Russian aggression. Pope Francis stated that the Vatican would help in the repatriation of tens of thousands of deported Ukrainian children taken to Russia.
In Berlin, Zelenskyy met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to secure new Western military equipment and to solidify European support for Ukraine. Scholz promised Zelenskyy to support Ukraine „for as long as necessary“. Ahead of the Ukrainian President’s visit, the German government pledged a new package of military aid worth an estimated 2.7 billion EUR for war-torn Ukraine. Scholz expressed his support for European Union accession negotiations and the expansion of the partnership within NATO with Ukraine.
The next Zelenskyy’s stop after Berlin was Paris, where the Ukrainian President met with his counterpart Emmanuel Macron. Paris pledged additional military aid for Ukraine, including light tanks, armoured vehicles, and defence systems, but without giving specific numbers. France also decided to provide training for Ukrainian soldiers. Paris aims to train about 2.000 Ukrainian soldiers in France this year and nearly 4.000 others in Poland. Macron also expressed support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. Just like Scholz in Germany, Macron promised that political, humanitarian, economic and military aid will continue „for as long as necessary “.
The latest stop of Zelenskyy’s European tour was London, where the Ukrainian President met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. London confirmed already earlier it would provide Ukraine long-range attack drones and more air defence missiles to Kyiv. Downing Street also confirmed the delivery of Storm Shadow cruise missiles which grant Kyiv the ability to strike targets in Russian-occupied Crimea. The British government also decided to hold a “Ukraine Recovery Conference“ as part of efforts to „galvanise international investment to support Ukraine’s reconstruction“.
However, US intelligence leaks suggested that Zelenskyy has considered capturing areas in Russia for possible use as bargaining chips in peace negotiations. This would be a problem for the West since Western allies insisted that weapons they provide cannot be used to attack targets on the territory of Russia.