German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government on Monday, the culmination of growing doubts about her ability to resurrect Germany’s armed forces against the backdrop of the Ukraine war.
“Today, I requested that the chancellor dismiss me from the office of federal minister of defense,” Lambrecht, a member of Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), said in a statement.
Her decision to step down comes as Germany is under pressure to approve an increase in international military support for Kyiv, and Germany’s defence capabilities have been called into question after several Puma infantry tanks were put out of service during a recent military drill.
Lambrecht has been blamed for failing to get the Bundeswehr back in shape quickly, despite a 100 billion euro special fund being agreed for that purpose after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Hoegl, junior defence minister Siemtje Moeller, SPD party head Lars Klingbeil and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil have been named as potential successors by German media.
It was unclear whether Scholz would name a successor on Monday, according to government sources.
The pressure to find a successor quickly is also mounting because U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected in Berlin on Thursday and will attend a conference on Friday at the U.S. military base in Ramstein, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, to discuss further support for Ukraine.
Lambrecht was most recently criticised by media and opposition figures for posting an outdoor video on social media on New Year’s Day in which she thanked servicemen and women, but struggled to be heard against background noise from firecrackers and seemingly mixed up the war in Ukraine with pleasant personal encounters.
“What kind of a year was 2022? It faced us with many incredible challenges. There is a war raging in the middle of Europe. Associated with this were for me many special impressions, many encounters with interesting, great people,” Lambrecht said in the video.