President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with Germany’s leaders at Berlin’s Bellevue Palace on Sunday morning, a day after Germany announced its largest package of military aid for Kyiv and as the two nations seek to turn the page on months of rocky relations.
The visit was Mr. Zelensky’s first to Germany since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began more than a year ago. Mr. Zelensky met first with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the palace and was then received with military honors by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The grand reception for Mr. Zelensky came despite the fact Mr. Scholz, whose country is one of Ukraine’s largest financial and military backers, was among the last of European leaders to receive a visit from the wartime leader.
Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Scholz are hoping to improve cooperation after a year marred by diplomatic sniping and wrangling over Berlin’s initially slow pace in delivering weapons to Ukraine. Both sides are aware that their relationship will be more important than ever ahead of Ukraine’s looming counteroffensive against Russia, which will be buoyed by an influx of sophisticated Western-supplied weapons.
Mr. Zelensky’s trip to Germany follows a visit to Rome, where peace negotiations were a major theme in meetings with Pope Francis and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Ukrainian and German officials have privately said that Mr. Zelensky might be hoping to persuade Mr. Scholz to play a more influential role when it comes to European support for the war, or even in mediating a peace settlement.
That is something the chancellor has been reluctant to do.
Later on Sunday, Mr. Zelensky is expected to travel to city of Aachen in western Germany to receive the prestigious Charlemagne award on behalf of himself and the Ukrainian people. The award is bestowed on those who have done the most to promote European unity.
Previous winners have included Winston Churchill, Pope Francis, Angela Merkel and Bill Clinton. The judges’ decision to award the prize to Mr. Zelensky and the people of Ukraine underscored both how the war in Ukraine has united Europeans and the irony that Ukraine is not a part of the European Union, despite Kyiv’s strong entreaties to join.
Russian missile strike hits Ternopil in western Ukraine
Russia fired missiles at the Ternopil region in western Ukraine, Ukrainian officials on Sunday, hitting the hometown of Ukraine’s Eurovision group during the song contest and demonstrating Moscow’s ability to launch attacks far from the front lines.
The overnight strike involved cruise missiles and destroyed two houses, the regional governor, Volodymyr Trush, said Sunday on the Telegram messaging app. A number of other homes, buildings and vehicles were damaged, he added. While initial reports said two civilians had been injured, by Sunday morning Mr. Trush said that “there were no casualties from this extraordinary event.”
“Ternopil is the name of our hometown, which was bombed by Russia while we sang on the Eurovision stage about our steel hearts, indomitability and will,” Ukraine’s entry to the competition, the pop duo Tvorchi, wrote on its Instagram page. Tvorchi finished in sixth place.
The attack was deep in western Ukraine, less than 100 miles from Lviv, an area that has largely been spared the brunt of the war. It signaled that even though the Kremlin’s stock of weapons may have been depleted by 15 months of fighting, Russia retains the ability to target almost any part of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Air Force said that Russia overnight had launched attacks across the country using drones and cruise missiles. It said in a post on Telegram that air defenses had intercepted 25 attack drones and three cruise missiles, but did not specify how many had managed to get through.
The Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, was among the targets. Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said that Ukrainian soldiers had intercepted and destroyed Russian reconnaissance drones launched at Kyiv. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claims.
But the Ukrainian military’s General Staff said in its morning update on Sunday that the Kremlin’s top focus was still on eastern Ukraine, with Bakhmut and Maryinka “remaining at the epicenter of the fighting.” In recent days, Kyiv’s forces have made advances in Bakhmut, where tens of thousands of soldiers are believed to have died.