German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that he’ll invest Є100 billion ($113 billion) in weaponry and hike defense spending to 2% of GDP, in light of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Successive German governments have resisted investing in the country’s military, at times angering the US.
“It’s clear we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country, in order to protect our freedom and our democracy,”The left-wing leader spoke at a Bundestag special sitting (the German Parliament). Promising to reverse decades of low expenditure in this year’s budget, Scholz told lawmakers that the move was aimed squarely at Moscow.
“We have to ask ourselves: What capacities does Putin’s Russia have? And which capacities do we need to counter his threats?”He asked.
Scholz’s plan involves spending Є100 billion in procuring new weaponry, including Israeli drones and American F-35 fighter jets, the latter of which he said would be used to boost the NATO alliance’s nuclear deterrent against Russia.
He also said that Germany would immediately raise its defense expenditure to above 2% of the country’s GDP, a goal NATO requires its members to commit to, but few do in practice. Previously, Germany had pledged to meet this commitment by 2024, then by 2031 when the first target was missed.
Germany’s failure to reach this NATO target has been criticized in Washington. Former US President Donald Trump excoriated Berlin for its spending policies, accusing Germany of freeloading off the US’ military protection and “making a fortune”There were no US troops.
“They should be paying their bills,”Fox News, 2020: He said it. “Why should we defend countries and not be reimbursed?”
Scholz’s move toward rearmament is a dramatic turnaround for Germany. Berlin stopped the sale of arms and ammunition to Kiev as NATO members began to pour weapons into Ukraine over recent weeks. Germany’s reliance on Russian gas imports likely contributed to its unwillingness to interfere. The ban was lifted Saturday after Germany pulled out of its objection to cutting off some Russian banks from SWIFT’s banking network.
Germany’s armed forces have long been in need of modernization. A 2019 report revealed that fewer than 20% of the country’s 68 Tiger combat helicopters and fewer than 30% of its 136 Eurofighter jets were operational in 2018. It was also revealed that ammunition stocks had declined and that soldiers weren’t carrying the necessary gear.
Compounding the dysfunction, the German military regularly has to purge itself of extremism within its ranks. In addition to sanctioning individual soldiers involved in extremism, the military in 2020 disbanded an entire wing of the special forces after an investigation found its members were stockpiling ammunition and performing Nazi salutes.
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