| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

Germany to increase defense spending in response to ‘Putin’s war’ – Scholz

Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Sunday that Germany will significantly raise defense expenditure to more than 2% of GDP, as part of a series of policy adjustments precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Germany also canceled its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia this week, as well as consented to deliver arms to Ukraine, after years resisting criticism from Western allies on both topics and facing charges of being too dovish toward the Kremlin.

“We will have to invest more in the security of our country to protect out freedom and democracy,” Scholz told an extraordinary session of the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Sunday.

Germany has long resisted pressure from the United States and others to raise its defense spending to 2% of economic output in the light of its 20th century history and resulting strong pacifism among its population.

According to NATO statistics, Germany is expected to have spent 1.53% of its GDP on defense in 2021.

Scholz said the government had decided to supply 100 billion euros for military investments from its 2022 budget. Germany’s entire defence budget by comparison was 47 billion euros in 2021.

Germany could purchase U.S. F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin to replace its ageing Tornado in the role of nuclear sharing, Scholz said.

But the next generation of fighter jets and tanks must be built in Europe jointly with European partners, particularly with France, he said.

He also said that Germany had to move quickly to reduce its dependence on Russia as an energy supplier.

On Germany’s decision to send Ukraine defensive anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles and ammunition after long refusing on the grounds that the country did not send weapons to conflict zones, Scholz said simply: “There could be no other answer to Putin’s aggression”.

Scholz said the Russian leadership would soon feel the high price it had to pay for his war.

“And we reserve the right to impose further sanctions without any taboos,” he said.

  • Reuters