Zelensky Visits Berlin and Paris to Shore Up Support as U.S. Wavers

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is making a whirlwind trip through Berlin and Paris on Friday in a bid to shore up European backing at a critical moment for his country’s fight against Russia, with United States support wavering and Ukraine desperately in need of more arms.

Arriving in Berlin on Friday morning, Mr. Zelensky signed a security agreement with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany that pledged to “ strive for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.” The Ukrainian leader was expected in Paris later Friday to sign a similar accord with President Emmanuel Macron of France, before an expected appearance at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

“A historic step,” Mr. Scholz wrote in a social media post that included a picture of him and Mr. Zelensky holding the agreement after it was signed. .

European leaders have been scrambling to offer more support to Ukraine amid growing concerns that a $60 billion United States aid package, which passed the Senate, may yet be scuppered by Republicans in the House.

The security agreements are among a string of such commitments pledged by all Group of 7 members and several other countries to Ukraine at a meeting of NATO allies in Vilnius, Lithuania, last year, a move seen as an attempt to compensate for their reluctance to bring Kyiv quickly into the alliance.

The agreements are meant to provide Ukraine with sufficient security assistance to deter further Russian aggression — including deliveries of key weapons, training of troops and intelligence sharing — and to strengthen Ukraine’s financial stability and help it carry out political and economic overhauls.

Speaking after the signing in Berlin, Mr. Zelensky said he was “counting on the fact that the United States will not fall away,” and that he had received guarantees from the leaders of both American political parties of continued support.

“Regardless of any problems that may arise now in the House of Representatives or in Congress overall, or in politics because of the election process,” he said, “I nonetheless believe that we will ultimately see that familiar American pragmatic approach on this, because we are defending the security of the world.”

Ukraine is in dire need of ammunition, particularly artillery rounds, before what security experts say could be a critical year for its fight against Russia. Ukraine needs an “ammunition bailout,” said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, an analyst at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin.

“Zelensky knows who his most important allies are right now — Scholz and Macron — but both have to take the next step,” Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff said. “The Europeans stand before a fork in the road: When and if the United States falls to the wayside as a financial support, can they step up?”

Chancellor Scholz has been clear what he thinks: Even as Europe ramps up its efforts, he has stressed that it may be impossible to sustain Ukraine’s military campaign without American support.

“The United States is a great power, and its support is essential for Ukraine’s security and ability to defend itself,” he told journalists after the signing on Friday. “And that is my appeal to those responsible in the U.S. Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, to make this decision. This depends on America.”

Since October, European Union countries and institutions have allocated nearly $5 billion in military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine — more than three times as much as the United States has in the same period, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The total aid allocated by the bloc has exceeded that of the United States since August.

This month, European Union leaders pledged 50 billion euros, about $54 billion, in new aid to Ukraine.

Yet to fully replace American military assistance this year, according to the assessment by the Kiel Institute, Europe would still have “to double its current level and pace of arms assistance.”

Germany, once widely criticized as a laggard on military support to Ukraine, is now second only to Washington in what it has supplied. In November, Berlin announced that it would double its support to $8.5 billion in 2024.

The chancellery is now pushing other countries in Europe to share the burden and offer more weapons deliveries, arguing that it cannot offer any more.

Smaller nations such as Estonia and Latvia, both of which feel threatened by neighboring Russia, followed suit with announcements last month of new military aid packages, including drones and artillery weapons. But there remains a large gap between European aid pledges and actual deliveries.

European Union countries and institutions have committed more than $150 billion in aid since Russia’s full-scale invasion began almost two years ago, but they have allocated only half of that amount, the Kiel Institute said. By contrast, the United States has allocated more than 90 percent of the $73 billion in aid it has pledged.

Last month, Britain, which is not a bloc member, was the first G-7 country to sign one of the pledged security agreements with Ukraine. It includes cooperation in the defense industry, as well as in cybersecurity and maritime security, and states that in the event of future aggression by Russia, both countries “will consult within 24 hours to determine measures needed to counter or deter the aggression.”

Pavlo Klimkin, a former Ukrainian foreign minister, said the security agreements pledged by G-7 members were the best his country had achieved since gaining independence in 1991. But he noted that they do not commit allies to fight on behalf of Ukraine, and instead pledge only to help Ukraine in the event of future aggression.

Through these agreements, Mr. Klimkin said, Ukraine’s allies “will deliver what they can and when they can, which is fundamentally different from delivering what’s needed and when it’s needed.”

“Everything in these agreements will be delivered on the basis of political decisions,” he added. “That’s a big if.”

France, which has been criticized for sending too little financial and military aid to Ukraine, has tried in recent weeks to highlight its continuing support for Kyiv. Mr. Macron said last month that his country would send Ukraine 40 long-range Scalp missiles, which have proved crucial for striking deep behind enemy lines, as well as “hundreds of bombs.”

To meet Ukraine’s demands, France has also halved the production time for Caesar self-propelled howitzers and plans to produce 78 such cannons this year. France said it would donate 12 of those to Ukraine, while Kyiv has already bought six of them with its own funds. The French authorities hope that other Western allies will help pay for the rest.

“Let us not give in to the temptation of fatigue or indifference,” France’s foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné, said in an opinion article in the French daily newspaper Le Monde on Friday. “Let us choose to resist this particular temptation. Today’s efforts on behalf of Ukraine are nothing compared to those we would have to deploy against a Russia that feels victorious.”