Latest in Ukraine: Zelenskyy in Rome for Meetings with Italian Officials, Pope

New developments:

Germany says it is preparing a new weapons package for Ukraine worth $3 billion, reportedly the nation’s largest package since Russia invaded its neighbor last year.
Russia says its forces launched attacks on Ukrainian troops and military facilities on front lines in Kupyansk, Bundman and western Bakhmut.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Rome on Saturday for expected talks with Italian political leaders and the pope.

Zelenskyy’s trip comes as Russia again launched a drone attack on Kyiv and shelled cities in central and southern Ukraine, causing material damage, amid reports of some Ukrainian gains in Bakhmut, where heavy fighting has been under way for months.

Kyiv’s air defenses shot down all the drones launched by Russia overnight, the capital’s military administration reported Saturday, without specifying the number of drones.

There were no reports of damage or casualties, it said. It was the sixth drone attack on Kyiv this month.

In the central city of Khmelnytskyy, people were wounded and critical infrastructure was damaged by Russian shelling overnight, the region’s military administration reported early Saturday.

Khmelnytskyy Mayor Oleksandr Symchyshyn said schools, medical facilities, administrative buildings, industrial objectives, and high-rise residential buildings were damaged. “The number of wounded is currently being established,” he said.

The mayor of the southern city of Mykolayiv, Oleksandr Syenkevych, said three people were wounded in overnight shelling that damaged a factory and several residential buildings.

In Rome, Zelenskyy is to meet President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, and Pope Francis during his visit, whose details have not been revealed for security reasons.

Zelenskyy on Sunday is due to receive the prestigious Charlemagne Prize in the northern German city of Aachen.

It remains unclear if he will attend the ceremony in person and if he would also travel to Berlin for meetings with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Germany’s Der Spiegel reported Saturday that Berlin has put together a new package of military equipment for Ukraine worth $3 billion, the biggest since Russia’s invasion began.

The package will include 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 30 Leopard 1 tanks, 15 Gepard antiaircraft tanks, 200 reconnaissance drones, four additional Iris-T antiaircraft systems including ammunition, additional artillery ammunition, and more than 200 armored combat and logistics vehicles, the article said.

Zelenskyy’s trip to Italy comes a day after Ukraine said it had recaptured some territory in the bitterly contested city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.

Russia has acknowledged its forces retreated from positions north of Bakhmut, with Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov telling the media that Russian forces “occupied a new frontier” at the Berkhivske reservoir, some 2 kilometers from Bakhmut.

Konashenkov said Friday that Ukraine had launched an assault with more than 1,000 troops and up to 40 tanks after advancing the day before in the Soledar direction “along the entire line of contact” with a length of more than 95 kilometers.

The gains, if confirmed, would be the biggest for Ukraine in six months.

It is unclear if the developments were part of a long-planned counteroffensive.

There also were reports of Ukrainian advances to the south, suggesting a coordinated push by Kyiv to encircle Russian forces in Bakhmut.

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