Germany pledges more defense spending in shift in strategy

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz arrives for a statement on Ukraine at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 24, 2022.

Michael Cappeler | Reuters

Germany will allocate 100 billion euros ($112.7 billion) to a fund for its armed services and increase its defense spending above 2% of its gross domestic product, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during a special session of the Bundestag on Sunday.

It became clear that we “need to invest significantly more in the security of our country, in order to protect our freedom and our democracy,” Schultz said.

Germany has been widely criticized for what many describe as its underinvestment in its army and its slow, lackluster response to Russian military buildup around Ukraine and its subsequent invasion. Sunday’s announcement came on the heels of the German government’s decision on Saturday to send weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine.

Schulz said on Saturday that Germany would send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles directly to Ukraine. His government also removed some restrictions on sending German-made weapons into conflict zones, enabling more third-party countries to send weapons to Ukraine as well.

Rehu Terras, a member of the European Parliament and former Minister of Defense of Estonia, wrote on Twitter praising Germany’s decision.

“Chancellor OlafScholz just made a super strong statement in the Bundestag. Military spending exceeded 2% of GDP, completely strengthening the German army, and building new LNG terminals to break free from Russian gas.”

Germany was among the NATO member states criticized by former President Donald Trump for failing to meet the organization’s minimum commitment of 2% of GDP for defense spending. It was also recalled for its apparent reluctance to impose strong sanctions on Russia, given Germany’s heavy dependence on Russian gas, which makes up about 30% of its energy supply.

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Much controversy has surrounded Germany’s NordStream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, an $11 billion joint venture that would have doubled Russian gas exports to Germany, further constrained countries in terms of economic and energy dependence and weakened Ukraine. after russian President Vladimir PutinThe decision to send troops to Ukraine, Schulz announced last week that he was halting the pipeline project.

In late January, as Russian forces along Ukraine’s borders grew to what some estimated as up to 150,000 and NATO leaders stressed the dangers of a Russian invasion, Germany refused to supply its ally with weapons and offered to send 5,000 helmets instead.

Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko called the show an “absolute joke”, saying Ukraine needed weapons rather than protective equipment.

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