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19 Jan, 2024 14:29

German defense chief against going ‘all in’ on Ukraine

Boris Pistorius says donating too many weapons to Kiev would weaken Berlin’s own forces
German defense chief against going ‘all in’ on Ukraine

Germany should exercise some caution in its support for Ukraine, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has told the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. He also revealed that Berlin is considering reverting to a compulsory military service system.

The defense chief warned last month that European nations have less than a decade to ramp up their military capabilities in anticipation of a potential armed confrontation with Russia, and predicted that the US would shift its focus to the Asia-Pacific region.

In an interview published on Friday, Pistorius dismissed criticisms that Germany is not sending enough weaponry to Ukraine, pointing out that Berlin is the second largest contributor to Kiev after the US. However, he stressed that shipping German-made long-range Taurus cruise missiles, which Kiev has been requesting for months, is currently out of the question.

We have so far delivered everything that is possible,” he said, adding that Germany carefully weighs up the potential impact of each new shipment to Ukraine.

Pistorius cautioned that Berlin must also “keep an eye on its own defense capabilities” meaning that it can’t go “all in” for Ukraine as some are demanding.

Otherwise we would be defenseless ourselves,” he warned, while calling on other European nations to ramp up their defense production, to become more independent of the US.

The German minister suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin could eventually “attack a NATO country,” while acknowledging that such a scenario was unlikely at present. Germany must thoroughly upgrade its armed forces and civil defense, he concluded.

As part of these efforts, the Bundeswehr will simplify its recruitment policies and loosen its enlistment criteria, he noted, while mentioning the current debate on reintroducing compulsory military service.

A survey last month revealed that only 17% of German adults would be prepared to defend their country without question in case of a military conflict.

Earlier this week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed that Berlin would shell out more than €7 billion ($7.6 billion) on military aid for Ukraine this year.

Berlin provided Kiev with nearly $23 billion in aid between February 2022 and November 2023, according to the Kiel Institute for World Economy (IfW).

Since Kiev’s summer counteroffensive fizzled out with no major gains and heavy losses, top Ukrainian officials have increasingly been pressuring their Western backers for more weaponry.