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16 Aug, 2023 19:13

Germany backs away from NATO spending promise – Reuters

Berlin previously promised to meet the bloc’s 2% target over a five-year period
Germany backs away from NATO spending promise – Reuters

Germany has quietly dropped a plan to make NATO’s military spending targets legally binding, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The budget financing law passed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet on Wednesday was missing a provision that would have made the bloc’s defense spending target of 2% of GDP a legal requirement, according to the source.  

Scholz had pledged a “Zeitenwende” (sea change) in Germany’s defenses last February in the days following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, promising to “invest more than 2% of the GDP into our defense year after year.”  

Then-Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht doubled down on the chancellor’s pledge in September, declaring Germany must meet NATO’s targets over the long term even after the €100 billion ($101 billion) special fund enabling its current level of military spending is used up. This, she warned, would require a serious increase in the country’s defense budget.  

Germany is currently committed to meet the 2% target as an average over a five-year period. A spokesperson did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment regarding the budget. 

Last week, Germany revealed it plans to more than double its funding for the NATO Security Capacity Building Initiative compared to 2022, earmarking €5.4 billion ($5.95 billion) for the project compared to €2 billion ($2.21 billion) last year.  

The funds are used “primarily for military assistance to Ukraine,” according to the government’s statement, as well as for refilling Berlin’s own military stockpiles after shipments to Ukraine. Among the wealth of military hardware scheduled for delivery to Kiev are 60 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 66 armored personnel carriers, 100 Leopard tanks, Patriot missiles, 6 Gepard anti-aircraft guns, 18 self-propelled howitzers, and large amounts of ammunition.  

Berlin has even purchased dozens of scrapped Leopard tanks for Ukraine, with a spokesperson for defense company Rheinmetall announcing earlier this month that 30 of the obsolete vehicles would be recommissioned and sent to Kiev, with more to be used for spare parts.  

However, the country’s current defense minister, Boris Pistorius, earlier this month ruled out delivering long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine, citing “obvious” concerns that they would be used to attack Russian territory.  

According to Moscow, Ukraine has lost nearly 5,000 pieces of heavy weaponry and over 43,000 soldiers since launching its long-awaited counteroffensive in June, with no significant change in the front lines to show for it. Russia has repeatedly warned that continued arms supplies to Ukraine will only extend the conflict and prolong human suffering.