German defense minister to resign – media
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has decided to resign and will do so next week, SZ and Bild newspapers reported on Friday. The minister has already discussed the move with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the two media outlets claim, citing sources close to the politician.
According to Bild, Lambrecht made the decision of her own volition. Neither the government nor the defense minister has officially commented on the reported move so far.
The reports follow a major scandal that saw opposition politicians and journalists calling for Lambrecht’s immediate dismissal. The uproar was sparked by her ill-fated New Year’s Eve address, in which she said that the conflict between Moscow and Kiev had given her many “special impressions” and allowed her to meet many “interesting and great people.” Her speech was immediately lambasted as “embarrassing” and “inappropriate.”
The leaders of the biggest opposition bloc – the Union – then accused Scholz of making Lambrecht the defense minister to further weaken the German Armed Forces, which have been struggling with personnel shortages and equipment malfunctions for years.
Lambrecht’s tenure as defense minister also saw another scandal involving military equipment. In December, the nation said it would halt the procurement of modern domestically-produced Puma infantry fighting vehicles due to numerous malfunctions. Lambrecht described the development as a “major setback.”
The minister also took a rather reserved stance on sending military aid to Kiev, repeatedly warning that it is depleting the stocks of the German Armed Forces, and opposed supplying Ukraine with heavier weapons such as Leopard 2 tanks, saying that Berlin will never do so on its own.
Scholz defended Lambrecht, describing her as a “first-class defense minister” in December.