Amid criticism from anti-war groups and peace activists, Germany’s parliament is set to approve a €100 billion ($107.5 billion) special fund Friday for the modernization of the country’s armed forces.
According to the government’s plan, the lion’s share of the fund will go to the Air Force and will be used for new investments and purchases, including US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets, Chinook transport helicopters and Israeli Heron drones.
The German armed forces’ former chief of staff, retired General Harald Kujat, told Anadolu Agency that the massive defense spending for the military was now urgently needed due to the major changes in the security environment.
“That is absolutely right,” he said, stressing that according to the constitution, the armed forces (Bundeswehr) must be in a position to defend the country and the NATO alliance.
“No one can see that as a threat, and Russia will not see that as a threat either. Especially if you take into account the situation we are facing at the moment,” he said.
Kujat said that for more than a decade, the Bundeswehr mainly focused on deployments abroad as part of international missions, while military capabilities for national and alliance defense were neglected due to the absence of any major threat in Europe.
“It is extremely important for land forces to be protected against air attacks. For this, an army air defense system is needed. But this has been completely abolished. The naval air force has been abolished, and many other things as well,” he said.
Kujat, who served as the Bundeswehr’s chief of staff between 2000 to 2002, said with the government’s new plan, the military will be able to restore national and alliance defense capabilities.
“That is basically a signal not to Russia or other states, but it is a signal to our allies, namely that we take burden sharing and solidarity seriously again as the two supporting pillars of the (NATO) alliance,” he said.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s left-liberal coalition government decided to boost defense spending in February after Russia launched its war against Ukraine, and it reached an agreement this week with the main opposition CDU/CSU bloc for the necessary constitutional and legal amendments.
But the government’s plan was heavily criticized by anti-war groups and peace activists, and some experts have warned that the move could further provoke Russia, creating further security risks in the region.
Albrecht Mueller, a prominent Social Democrat politician and close aide of former chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt, said the current government was acting without any serious strategy.
“That is anything but a wise policy,” he said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.
“This is a propaganda coup. A coup to portray the German government as powerful and strong. But it has nothing to do with good thinking, reflection, or a good strategy,” he said.
Mueller pointed out that the €100 billion special fund was a huge amount, more than twice the amount of the German Defense Ministry’s budget for 2021.
“This additional €100 billion is going to drive up prices. The defense industry will demand more, because there is way too much money,” he said, adding US weapons manufacturers and defense companies from other countries will be among the biggest beneficiaries of this plan.
He also warned that the move could trigger more tensions with Russia and lead to another arms race between the world powers.
“That’s a shame. This is really the return of the stupidity of the 50s of the last century, and surely a mature nation cannot afford that,” he said.
Mueller said that Germany should focus on diplomacy and good neighborly relations instead of boosting its defense spending.
“Our security depends very much on getting along with our neighbors,” he added.