In historic policy shift, Germany to increase military spending to counter Russian threat

0
13

Feb. 27 (UPI) — Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced an historic expansion of Germany’s defense spending on Sunday as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its fourth day.

Before a special session of Parliament, the leader of Europe’s richest nation said Berlin will increase its annual military spending to more than 2% of its gross domestic product, which is a strong reversal from its anti-militarization stance that stems from its involvement in the Second World War.

Advertisement

“From now on — year after year — we will invest more than 2% of gross domestic product in our defense. The goal is an efficient, state-of-the-art progressive Bundeswehr that reliably protects us,” he said, referring to Germany’s armed forces by its official name.

He also announced an immediate $113 billion investment in the armed forces.

“We will not rest until peace in Europe is secured,” he said.

According to the World Bank, Germany spent 1.4% of GDP on its military in 2020. The United States has been calling on Berlin leadership for years to increase its military spending to 2% of GDP, which is the current agreed upon target for member nations.

The announcement came as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues with his invasion of Ukraine that began Monday while threatening nations seeking to aid Kyiv.

Advertisement

Leaders have framed the invasion as a target of not only peace in Europe by the world as well as a violation of the principles the international rules-based order is built upon.

The invasion was widely expected as Russia had encircled Ukraine with more than 150,000 troops.

Germany has sought relations with Russia, specifically concerning a massive $11 billion, 750-mile Nord Stream 2 pipeline that allies, especially the United States, have raised serious concerns about.

After the invasion began, Scholz canceled the project. On Saturday, he announced Berlin would supply Kyiv with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 stinger missiles — another turn-about in its military foreign policy.

Scholz has repeatedly said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marks a “turning point” for Germany.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Germany needs a well-equipped and powerful military and that Putin’s war made that clear.

“We are countering this historical turning point with an unprecedented joint effort,” she said in a statement.

The announcement came as the European Union announced it would supply Ukraine with arms, including fighter jets, marking the first time it has supplied a country under attack with weapons.