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Ukraine's Zelenskiy lands in Germany in bid to shore up support

Ukrainian President Zelenskiy visits Rome

By Andreas Rinke and Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has landed in Berlin, according to a post on his Twitter feed, as the leader seeks to shore up support from key allies against Russia's invasion.

"Already in Berlin," Zelenskiy tweeted shortly after midnight on Sunday, arriving from Italy where he met with Italian officials and Pope Francis on Saturday.

The Ukrainian leader last visited Germany for the Munich Security Council in February last year just before the war broke out.

Germany, which is Europe's largest economy, faced criticism at the start of the war for what some called a hesitant response, but it has become one of Ukraine's biggest providers of financial and military assistance, ahead of other European powers like France.

Germany on Saturday announced 2.7 billion euro ($3.0 billion) of military aid to Ukraine, its biggest such package since the Russian invasion, and pledged further support for Kyiv for as long as necessary.

The country has also taken in around a million Ukrainian refugees.

Zelenskiy will likely want to know directly from Chancellor Olaf Scholz how he sees the war ending, said Christian Moelling, deputy director at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

"Does Germany want a Ukrainian victory or is it enough for the war to end?" he said. "It will be important for Zelenskiy to hear directly from the chancellor how he thinks."

Ukraine is also likely aware of the need to shore up support from the allies supporting it financially as they deal with a cost of living crisis at home, said Moelling.

"Ukraine needs financial assistance to pay its debt so it doesn't go bankrupt and Germany plays a big role there," he said. "And Ukraine is seeing that in Germany other topics are beginning to move into the foreground."

An Ipsos survey in January showed the share of Germans who believed the country could not afford to lend financial support to Ukraine due to the current economic crisis had risen 9 percentage points to 56%.

That survey also showed a drop in German support for accepting new refugees from Ukraine and providing military assistance.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Sarah Marsh and Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Frances Kerry and Daniel Wallis)