politics

Germany Announces Major Defense Policy Shift in Face of Russia's Ukraine Invasion

Michael Kappeler | Reuters
  • Scholz said Saturday that Germany would be sending 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles directly to Ukraine.
  • His government has also removed some restrictions on German-made weapons being sent to conflict zones, enabling more third-party countries to send weapons to Ukraine as well.

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

It has become clear that "we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country, in order to protect our freedom and our democracy," Scholz said.

Germany has been widely criticized for what many describe as meager investment in its military and its slow and lackluster response to Russia's military buildup around, and subsequent invasion of, Ukraine. The announcement Sunday followed the German government's decision Saturday to send weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine.

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

The move signaled a major shift in a German defense policy that's been in place since the end of World War II that prevented the exporting of locally made weapons to conflict zones.

Riho Terras, a member of the European Parliament and former defense chief for Estonia, wrote on Twitter praising Germany's decision.

"Chancellor @OlafScholz just made a super strong statement at the Bundestag. Military expenditure to more than 2% of GDP, thoroughly strengthening the Bundeswehr, 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 to defense spending. It's also been called out for its apparent reluctance to levy strong sanctions on Russia, given Germany's heavy reliance on Russian gas, which makes up about 30% of its energy supplies.

Much controversy surrounded Germany's NordStream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, a joint project costing $11 billion that would have doubled Russian gas exports to Germany, and further tying the countries in terms of economic and energy reliance and weakening Ukraine. Following Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to send troops into Ukraine, Scholz last week announced he was halting the pipeline project.

In late January, as Russian troops along Ukraine's borders grew to what some estimated to be as many as 150,000 and NATO leaders emphasized the risks of a Russian invasion, Germany refused to provide weapons to its ally and offered to send 5,000 helmets instead.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko called the offer an "absolute joke," saying that Ukraine needed weapons rather than protective gear.

Copyright CNBCs - CNBC
Contact Us