Euronews: After Scholz’s pledge to support Ukraine and boost the defense budget… why did Germany change its policy?
In a special session of the German bondstag, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that his country intends to build two liquefied gas stations and increase the defense budget three days after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war on February 27, 2022, stressing his full solidarity with Kiev and continuing to support Ukraine.
The German chancellor at the time also made clear his country’s pledge to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 combat tanks, pointing to the country’s security situation always before our eyes, and that the world won’t be the same as before.
Calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “Warmonger,” Scholz vowed to stop starving the battered German army and allocate 100 billion Euros, or twice the annual defense budget, to modernize the German armed forces.
So far, Germany has managed to commit about 30 billion Euros out of 100 billion Euros, the government reported last week, adding that the money would only be transferred after planes, uniforms and other necessary equipment were ordered.
The money also includes about 13 billion Euros for combat aircraft with nuclear capabilities and transport helicopters, which Germany planned to buy even before the start of the war.
The peace that Germany might talk about in some of its speeches is closely related to the special fund announced by Chancellor Scholz, which is to spend 2% of the country’s GDP on defense year after year.
Despite this, it seems that these two political and defense decisions reflect the slow progress of Germany and the fact that the mechanisms of the security and defense policy apparatus haven’t yet reached the desired level.
For example, it took until mid-December to prepare procurement contracts for the parliament’s budget committee, whose members must approve every purchase over 25 million Euros, which means that 100 billion Euros for the Special Fund is a lot of money.
On the other hand, Germany doesn’t intend to permanently increase its defense budget to meet its long-standing commitment to NATO.
In the current medium-term financial plan, military spending is frozen at 50.1 billion Euros.
Even with the money coming from the Special Fund, Germany is not expected to reach the 2% target even in 2024 and 2025.
Both the slow spending of the private assets of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany and the failure to meet NATO’s spending quota are symbolic of processes, institutions and players that haven’t been sufficiently imbued with the spirit of a new era, an era in which a bloody war is raging on the outskirts of its borders.
The history of Scholz’s announcement that the Bundeswehr will develop into the largest conventional army within NATO, and the first steps taken along this path in material procurement show that bureaucratic and ministerial processes continue to be complex and long discussions.
When analysts warned last fall that high inflation would kill the 100 billion Euros fund if the government did not spend it quickly.
For example, rather than committing to filling the financial gap, the Defense Ministry simply reduced its wish list, including two frigates for the German Navy.
Around the same time, the government passed a 200 billion Euros package to support Germany’s energy bills, an initiative that should sit well with voters but does nothing for the country’s security.
Given all this data, it seems that the main driver of the German chancellor’s words in his speech last year is his desire to change the country’s economically leading mentality and shift it towards attention to security issues, including spending on the army.
But will Scholz’s desire remain pending, or will it see the light of tangible modifications in the future?