German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived with a statement on Ukraine at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on February 24, 2022.
Michael Kappeler Reuters
Germany is allocating 100 billion euros ($ 112.7 billion) to the fund of its armed forces and will increase spending on the defense of more than 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 much more in the security of our country to protect our freedom and our democracy,” Scholz said.
Germany has been widely criticized for being described by many as a meager investment in its army, as well as for its slow and vague response to Russia’s build-up of troops around Ukraine and its subsequent invasion of Ukraine. Sunday’s announcement came after the German government decided on Saturday to send weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine.
Scholz said on Saturday that Germany would send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles directly to Ukraine. His government has also lifted some restrictions on sending German-made weapons to conflict zones, allowing more third parties to send weapons to Ukraine.
The move signaled a major shift in German defense policy, which had been in place since the end of World War II, preventing the export of locally produced weapons to conflict zones.
Richo Teras, a member of the European Parliament and former head of Estonia’s defense, wrote on Twitter, praising Germany’s decision.
“Chancellor @OlafScholz has just made a very strong statement in the Bundestag. Military spending up to more than 2% of GDP, thorough strengthening of the Bundeswehr, construction of new LNG terminals to get rid of Russian gas.
Germany was among NATO members criticized by former President Donald Trump for failing to meet the organization’s minimum commitment of 2% of GDP on defense spending. It has also been called for a clear reluctance to impose tough sanctions on Russia, given Germany’s heavy dependence on Russian gas, which accounts for about 30% of its energy supplies.
There has been much controversy over Germany’s Nord Stream-2 pipeline from Russia, a $ 11 billion joint project that would double Russian gas exports to Germany and further bind the countries in terms of economic and energy dependence and weaken Ukraine. Following the Russians President Vladimir PutinRussia’s decision to send troops to Ukraine, Scholz last week announced he was shutting down the pipeline project.
In late January, as Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders grew to 150,000, according to some estimates, and NATO leaders stressed the risk of a Russian invasion, Germany refused to give weapons to its ally and offered to send 5,000 helmets instead.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko called the proposal an “absolute joke”, saying that Ukraine needed weapons, not protective equipment.