Germany sent 5,000 helmets to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion on Friday but its meager gesture has been ridiculed as a “joke.”
German officials had previously refused to send weapons or “lethal aid” to Ukraine, despite the build-up of Russian forces, and only offered the helmets after being criticized by Ukrainian leaders who said the move was a “betrayal of friends.”
Ahead of a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin Saturday afternoon, Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki criticized the German response.
Morawiecki said Germany’s aid thus far — of military helmets, not weapons — is a far cry from what’s necessary to help Ukraine defend itself.
“What kind of help was delivered to Ukraine? Five thousand helmets? This must be a joke,” Morawiecki said.
After helmets, what will Germany send to Ukraine? Pillows?
On Jan. 26, Germany Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced Berlin would be sending the headgear to support Ukraine’s armed forces.
At the time, Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv – Ukraine’s capital city – slammed the commitment as a joke.
“The behavior of the German government leaves me speechless,” Klitschko, who was elected mayor of Kyiv in 2014, told German tabloid Bild, according to Reuters. “The defense ministry apparently hasn’t realized that we are confronted with perfectly equipped Russian forces that can start another invasion of Ukraine at any time.”
“What kind of support will Germany send next?” Klitschko added. “Pillows?” Klitschko had said.
The handoff is expected to happen outside the country. According to a report in New York Times, Ukraine asked Germany for 100,000 helmets.
Critics accused Germany of prioritizing Nord Stream 2 — an undersea Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline — over helping Ukraine. Germany eventually put the pipeline on hold after Russian troops were sent into the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Germany has come under ridicule and attack in social media for its contribution to the defense of Ukraine. A user said that the military assistance constitutes “breathtaking damage to Germany‘s international reputation.”