Ukrainian officials aren't thrilled about Germany's underwhelming response to a plea for military assistance. The mayor of Kyiv, the country's capital and biggest city, says he was left "speechless" by Germany's offer to send 5,000 helmets to defend against a possible invasion by 100,000 Russian troops massed at the border. "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," Vitali Klitschko told Germany's Bild newspaper. The mayor called the offer an "absolute joke." "What kind of support will Germany send next?" he quipped. "Pillows?" Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, has accused Germany of "encouraging Vladimir Putin" by refusing to send weapons, Al Jazeera reports.
Other NATO members, including the US and the UK, have sent arms to Ukraine, but Christine Lambrech, Germany's defense minister, says the country won't send "lethal weapons to crisis areas because we don't want to fuel the situation." She says the helmets will send a "very clear signal" that Germany is standing by Ukraine. Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine's ambassador to Germany, tells Reuters that the "symbolic gesture" is welcome, but the country needs to equip hundreds of thousands of soldiers—and there are items it needs more urgently than helmets. "We are glad that we can see at least the beginning of a change in thinking," he says. "However, what we need the most are defensive weapons. German officials say they have also offered to send a field hospital.
The US Embassy in Kyiv, meanwhile, says a shipment of military hardware including 300 Javelin anti-tank missiles arrived in Ukraine Tuesday, CNBC reports. The embassy says this was the third shipment of nearly $200 million in military aid authorized by President Biden. On Wednesday, NATO and the Biden administration told Russia they were rejecting demands including a permanent ban on Ukraine joining the alliance. A Kremlin spokesman said Thursday that while dialogue is still possible, the Western response leaves "little ground for optimism." (Read more Ukraine stories.)