Germany Vows To Raise Defence Spending Above 2 Per Cent Of Its GDP A Day After Historic Volte Face On Policy Of Never Sending Weapons To Conflict Zones

by Swarajya Staff - Feb 27, 2022 09:27 PM +05:30 IST
Germany Vows To Raise Defence Spending Above 2 Per Cent Of Its GDP A Day After Historic Volte Face On Policy Of Never Sending Weapons To Conflict ZonesGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz

The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed a special session of the Bundestag on Sunday.

It has become clear that Germany needs to "significantly more in the security of our country, in order to protect our freedom and our democracy," he said.

This announcement follows German government's decision on Saturday to send weapons to Ukraine, which was a major policy u-turn in its own right. German government will be sending 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine.

The German government also lifted restrictions on German made weapons being sent to conflict zones, which would allow other countries like Netherlands to send German made weapons to Ukraine as well. This policy is a significant shift away from Germany's defence policy which has existed since the end of 2nd World War, preventing export of locally manufactured weapons to conflict zones.

Back in January as Russian troops continued to amass at Ukraine's border, and other Western nations like the US and the UK supplied armaments to Ukraine, Germany refused to do so and sent 5,000 helmets to Ukraine.

Kyiv's mayor along with many people on social media called it an 'absolute joke'. Up until a few days ago, Germany was facing significant criticism for a dilly-dallying response to Russia's invasion. The nation's energy dependence on Russia was widely scrutinised as the main reason why Berlin was dragging its feet.

On the question of putting SWIFT on the table too Germany initially appeared more hesitant than the UK or France. It is worth noting that Germany is amongst the NATO countries that was singled out by the former US President Donald Trump for failing to meet NATO's minimum commitment of 2% of GDP to defence spending.

Germany's defence spending (% of GDP) from 1960 to 2020 | Credits:  SIPRI
Germany's defence spending (% of GDP) from 1960 to 2020 | Credits: SIPRI

Nations like Germany were chastised as 'free riders' by President Trump. The idea being that whilst prosperous nations like Germany can afford to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence. They choose not to and as a result America gets 'shafted' because whilst America does the heavy lifting for Germany's security, Germany and 'its EU' refuse to give anything in return to America by acting as a protectionist trading block.

Germany currently spends around 1.5 percent of GDP on defence and the current coalition government had previously been reluctant to commit to the 2 percent target, despite Washington's frustration.

Vladimir Putin's action has ironically given not only Mr. Trump but many Americans what they wanted, that is Europeans spending more towards defence. His actions have also strengthened the North Atlantic alliance which for quite some time seemed like a rudderless ship lost in the sea.

It is not only Mr. Trump who was pessimistic about the purpose of alliance, which was broadcasted to the world when he asked out loud "Why do we have a NATO?". France's President Macron also gave an insight into what his views were about NATO when he called it 'Braindead'.

Schloz described Mr. Putin's actions as a "turning point in the history of our continent." Amidst loud applause by the lawmakers, he stated that his government would set up a special €100 billion fund to swiftly upgrade its armed forces. The social democrat Chancellor added that these goals should be within Germany reach, considering Germany's "size and importance in Europe".

Referencing to the current less than ideal state of German military or Bundeswehr as it is known in Germany, he said that “we need planes that fly, ships that sail, and soldiers who are optimally equipped for their missions”.

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