It comes after Zelenskyy’s back-to-back visits to Berlin, Rome and Paris over the weekend that included a meeting with Pope Francis.

In Berlin, Zelenskyy thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the country’s military support, a far cry from Berlin’s vacillation earlier in the war. The Ukrainian leader left with the promise of additional military aid worth more than $3 billion.

After a three-hour meeting in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to help Ukraine «for as long as it is needed,» pledging additional military aid, including armored vehicles and light tanks «in the coming weeks,» as well as training for soldiers and support Ukraine’s air defense capabilities.

Zelenskyy said on Saturday that kyiv and its Western supporters could make a Russian defeat in the war «irreversible» this year. And while that would require resounding success in the battles to come, the Ukrainian leader will have had the wind in his sails thanks to a renewed sense that Kiev was pushing back Russian forces after a difficult winter on the defensive.

On Saturday, the Russian media reported that up to four Russian planes, including two fighter jets and two helicopters, may have been shot down in the country’s Bryansk region, near the border with Ukraine. NBC News was unable to verify the reports.

kyiv did not take responsibility for the incident, but Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called it «justice» and «instant karma.» in a tweet.

The incident could further fuel a sense of unease within the country, following a wave of explosions that hit strategic targets and several prominent pro-war figures in recent months and an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin, all attributed to Ukraine.

Wagner’s mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin suggested on Sunday that the plane may have been shot down by Russia’s own air defense systems, without providing any evidence.

Prigozhin’s forces have been fighting over the town of Bakhmut, which has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and the focal point of the conflict in the country’s eastern Donbas region. His bitter dispute with Russia’s military top brass over ammunition has escalated in the public eye, with Prigozhin blaming army troops for setbacks in fighting in the city last week that saw Ukraine reclaim its first gains. significant in months.