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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on his crucial trip to Berlin and stressed the need for additional weapons to fight the large-scale invasion of Russia, including the delivery of powerful tanks Leopard 2 fighter jet to Ukraine.
“We discussed it. We even proposed how Germany could supply these tanks to Ukraine,” Shmyhal told reporters on September 4.
“[We] discussed all issues regarding tanks and other military systems for Ukraine,” he said, adding that he was “optimistic” about the eventual delivery of the tanks.
Scholz has so far expressed skepticism about sending battle tanks to Ukraine.
Shmyhal spoke to reporters after meeting Scholz and being received with military honors at the German chancellery, but a planned joint press conference was canceled by German officials, citing scheduling issues.
Ukraine’s prime minister earlier met President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the first leg of his visit to the German capital, discussing the military situation in his beleaguered country and pleading for additional arms support.
After this meeting, Shmyhal thanked Berlin on Twitter “for solidarity with Ukrainians and support” to the country.
Steinmeier assured Shmyhal that Germany “will continue to stand reliably alongside Ukraine”, according to the German president’s spokeswoman.
The visit marks the end of tensions between the two countries, as Kyiv has criticized Germany in the past for providing too little aid to Ukraine’s fight against a massive invasion by neighboring Russia since February.
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Scholz visited Kyiv in June and arms deliveries have increased since then.
“Germany has made huge progress in supporting Ukraine with weapons,” Shmyhal told German media ahead of his trip. He added that Kyiv needed more, especially “modern battle tanks”.
“We need a change in the philosophy behind arms deliveries. With this I mean that modern tanks should also be delivered,” Shmyhal told German news agency dpa.
The Leopard 2 is “the modern tank that Ukraine needs on the battlefield”, he added.
The Leopard 2 is the main battle tank of the German army and is considered one of the best in the world, priced at around $7 million apiece.
Shymhal also said his country was ready to supply Germany with electricity to help Europe’s biggest economy reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports.
Ukraine is experiencing a larger than normal surplus of electricity export capacity, as domestic consumption has fallen significantly since the Russian invasion as many people fled the country and the economy slowed.
Shmyhal’s meeting with Steinmeier is part of efforts to ease tensions that stemmed from Kyiv’s refusal of an offer by Steinmeier to visit Ukraine in April.
Steinmeier angered Kyiv in the days following the Russian invasion by only offering to supply 5,000 helmets.
Steinmeier had previously advocated a policy of “détente” towards Russia, but admitted following the invasion of Moscow that this policy was a mistake.
Germany has since started to supply significant heavy weapons, including artillery, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft systems. A new military aid package worth more than 500 million euros ($498 million) has been approved.
In a speech Aug. 29, Scholz said Berlin would continue to support Ukraine “as long as it takes.”
Germany has taken in nearly one million Ukrainian refugees.