Germany’s proposal to send 5,000 helmets to Ukraine caused outrage

Soldiers among the hundreds who have taken up positions around a Ukrainian military base stand near the periphery of this base in Crimea on March 2, 2014 in Perevalne, Ukraine.

Sean Gallup | beautiful pictures

Germany sparked outrage for a number of quarters after it offered to supply 5,000 military helmets to Ukraine to help it defend itself against a possible Russian invasion.

About 100,000 Russian troops are believed to be on the border with Ukraine. While countries like the US and UK have sent military equipment to Ukraine, Germany is clearly hesitant to send equipment.

The helmet offering, launched on Wednesday, was mocked by some Ukrainian officials. First, the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, dismissed the suggestion as “a joke” and said it had left him “speechless”.

“The behavior of the German government left me speechless. The Ministry of Defense clearly did not realize that we were confronting well-equipped Russian forces that could initiate another invasion of Ukraine at any time. any time”. he told the Bild newspaper on Wednesday.

“What kind of support will Germany send next?” he asks. “Pillow?”

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Wednesday said Berlin was responding to requests for military equipment, especially helmets, according to Reuters. Bild also reports that the German government has received a request for help from Ukraine, which states: 100,000 combat helmets and tactical vests are needed.

Germany had previously said it would provide a fully equipped field hospital to Ukraine, but German officials were reluctant to send more defensive weapons.

Last weekend, the German defense minister said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper that sending weapons to Ukraine would not be helpful as efforts to defuse tensions between Russia and Ukraine were still ongoing.

“We are on Kyiv’s side. We have to do everything to de-escalate. At the moment, the delivery of weapons will not be helpful in this respect; the German government has an agreement on this.” Lambrecht told the paper last Saturday, according to a translation by Deutsche Welle.

Her comments came after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a news conference on Friday that in recent years, “Germany does not support the export of lethal weapons”, DW reported.

In addition, Germany is believed to have blocked the Baltic state of Estonia from providing military assistance of German origin to Ukraine, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal last Friday.

Ukraine needs ‘defensive weapons’

Last week, the new chancellor of Germany said that “Silence is not a reasonable option” after years of tension on the doorstep of Europe. But while Germany and France may prefer to rely on crisis talks with Russia and Ukraine to try to avert a possible confrontation (the four countries met on Wednesday for talks in Paris) , NATO and the US are trying to arm Ukraine – so they can defend itself – without sending troops into the country.

Since Ukraine is not a member of the Western military alliance, the organization is under no obligation to protect it. It is also not a member of the EU, although it aspires to be a member of both.

But given Ukraine’s position on the EU’s border, NATO allies are in the inevitable position of being bound in part to help Ukraine defend itself against an increasingly aggressive Russia that wants to expand its influence. influence in former Soviet Union countries such as Ukraine and Belarus.

Russia seized territory from Ukraine after annexing Crimea in 2014. It has also supported a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine and is widely seen to support pro-Russian separatists in the region. Donbass, although they have denied this.

Given Russia’s recent history of aggression towards Ukraine, many analysts believe that Russia is now looking for an excuse to invade. Western allies did not take advantage and NATO has put its forces on standby and consolidated its positions in Eastern Europe, with more ships and warplanes sent to the region. .

Meanwhile, The US has put thousands of troops on high alert, meaning they are ready to deploy to the region if the crisis escalates. Britain has sent Ukraine short-range anti-tank missiles and is said to be considering sending hundreds more troops to Eastern Europe to support NATO forces there. according to Sky News.

On Tuesday, a US aircraft carrying about 300 Javelin anti-tank missiles, launchers and other military assets landed in Kyiv, the US Embassy in the capital said via Twitter, adding. that this shipment is the third shipment in the amount of $200 million authorized by the President. Joe Biden. The package includes other anti-armor systems, grenade launchers, ammunition and non-lethal equipment “essential to Ukraine’s frontline defense forces”, according to the US Department of Defense.

For its part, Russia has repeatedly said it has no plans to invade Ukraine, but it has asked NATO for legal guarantees that Ukraine will never be admitted to the alliance and it wants to see NATO deployed again. in Eastern Europe, among other activities. request.

The United States formally responded to Russia’s security requests on Wednesday, with the US ambassador to Russia sending a written response to the Kremlin. The responses were not made public, but the Biden administration has made it clear that some of Russia’s demands, including barring Ukraine from joining the NATO alliance, are “unfounded”.

Why is Germany so reluctant?

Germany is also in a difficult geopolitical and economic position when it comes to dealing with Russia, with which it has traditionally had strong trade ties. Current tensions focus on the fate of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project connecting Russia and Germany.

The pipeline is set to increase Russia’s gas supplies to the EU (which already supplies about 40% of the bloc’s natural gas) by sending them directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.

Germany’s reluctance to send defensive weapons to Ukraine can also be traced back to the 20th century, with the scars of World War I and World War II so deeply ingrained in Germany’s political conscience, making it vulnerable. become the target of criticism and can be condemned if involved. in military confrontations.

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