Germany offers Ukraine helmets, Kyiv’s Klitschko ‘speechless’

“Someone who acts like Putin does not care whether these dead bodies are on the streets of Bucha, Tbilisi, Vilnius, or Berlin,” the Social Democrat minister said in front of the Bundestag during a debate on the atrocities committed by Russian troops in Kyiv’s suburb Bucha. [EPA-EFE/Christian Marquardt]

Germany will supply 5,000 military helmets to Ukraine to help defend against a possible Russian invasion, it said on Wednesday (26 January) – an offer Kyiv mayor and former world champion boxer Vitali Klitschko dismissed as “a joke” that left him “speechless”.

Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said Berlin, which has faced growing criticism of its refusal to supply arms to Ukraine as other Western countries have done, was responding to a request from the government in Kyiv.

“I received a letter from the Ukrainian embassy, requesting support with military equipment, helmets to be precise,” she told reporters. “We will supply Ukraine with 5,000 helmets as a clear signal: We are at your side.”

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine but denies planning to attack its neighbour.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnyk said the “symbolic gesture” was welcome but inadequate as his country needs equipment for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, of which helmets are not the most urgently needed part.

“We are glad that we can see at least the beginning of a change in thinking,” he told Reuters. “However, what we need the most are defensive weapons.”

Germany continues blocking arms exports to Ukraine due to new foreign 'peace' policy

Germany reiterated its refusal to send defensive weapons to Ukraine that according to Kyiv would help the country fend off a potential Russian invasion. This comes as part of a new German peace policy that aims at restricting arms exports and fostering peace via diplomacy.

While the United States and Britain have started sending more arms to Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ruled out sending “lethal weapons” for historical reasons.

“This is exactly how we will continue to work in this conflict. We are working towards reaching a peaceful solution to this conflict in the middle of Europe,” Lambrecht said.

At the weekend, the defence minister had said Germany would also supply a field hospital to Ukraine.

But Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion who lived for years in Germany and is now mayor of the Ukrainian capital, was unimpressed with Wednesday’s offer.

“The behaviour of the German government leaves me speechless. The defence ministry apparently hasn’t realized that we are confronted with perfectly equipped Russian forces that can start another invasion of Ukraine at any time,” he told Germany’s largest tabloid Bild.

“What kind of support will Germany send next?” he joked. “Pillows?”

Germany’s 'hydrogen diplomacy' under fire in Ukraine

Amidst rising military tensions between Ukraine and Russia, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s visit to Kyiv focused on the massive amounts of renewable hydrogen Germany aims to import in the future.

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