Published1 hour ago
Ukraine has no plans to hit targets in Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in Germany, where Kyiv secured a big new defence aid package.
“We are not attacking Russian territory,” he said after talks in Berlin with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“We are preparing a counterattack to de-occupy the illegitimately conquered territories,” Mr Zelensky added.
Mr Scholz vowed to back Ukraine “for as long as it is necessary”, promising €2.7bn (£2.4bn) worth of weapons.
This includes advanced German Leopard tanks and more anti-aircraft systems to defend Ukraine from almost daily deadly Russian missile and drone attacks.
President Zelensky described the new tranche as “the largest since the beginning of the full-scale aggression” by Russia in February 2022.
The war has transformed Germany’s attitude towards Ukraine, moving from being a reluctant supplier of military hardware to virtually doubling its contribution overnight, the BBC’s Jenny Hill in Berlin says.
Russia accuses Ukraine of repeatedly hitting targets inside Russia, including a reported drone attack on Moscow’s Kremlin earlier this month.
Ukraine denies the accusations, while also stressing that it has a legitimate right to use force and other means to fully de-occupy its territories currently under Russian control. These include four regions in the south and east, as well as the Crimea peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Later on Sunday, President Zelensky travelled to the western city of Aachen to receive the prestigious Charlemagne Prize awarded this year to him and the Ukrainian people. The honour is given for efforts to foster European unity.
“Ukraine incarnates everything the European idea is living for: the courage of convictions, the fight for values and freedom, the commitment to peace and unity,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the award ceremony.
Previous winners include Winston Churchill, Pope Francis and Bill Clinton.
In other developments on Sunday:
- Ukraine’s air force says it destroyed 25 drones and three cruise missiles launched by Russia in yet another massive overnight attack
- Six people were killed and another 16 injured in the past 24 hours in Russian shelling of Ukraine-held areas in the eastern Donetsk region, local officials said
- One person was killed in Sunday’s Russian artillery attack on the southern Kherson region
- Mobile internet is temporarily suspended in the Russian-seized areas of the eastern Luhansk region because of increased shelling by Ukrainian troops, Moscow-installed officials said
President Zelensky flew to Germany from Italy overnight, his plane escorted by two German Air Force fighter jets.
In Rome, the Ukrainian leader met Italian President Sergio President Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. He also had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The Argentine pontiff said he was constantly praying for peace in Ukraine.
The Pope also stressed the urgent need to help “the most fragile people, innocent victims” of the Russian invasion.
Meanwhile, Ms Meloni assured Mr Zelensky of Rome’s support for united Ukraine.
Later on Sunday, the Ukrainian leader arrived in Paris, where he went to the Élysée Palace for a working dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron.