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18 Feb, 2024 12:10

Germany could hike military spending – defense minister

NATO states, most notably the US under Donald Trump, have repeatedly criticized Berlin for failing to pull its weight
Germany could hike military spending – defense minister

Germany's multi-billion military budget increase could bring the country's spending  on its army to as high as 3.5% of GDP, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has said. However, he did voice certain doubts about Berlin’s ability to maintain expenditure at such a level in the long run.

Other NATO members, especially the US under former President Donald Trump, have repeatedly called out Germany over its failure to reach the bloc’s target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defense. Following the start of Russia’s offensive against Ukraine two years ago, Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to start investing in the Bundeswehr in earnest.

To this end, his government set up a special fund for the military totaling some €100 billion ($108 billion).

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Pistorius said that Berlin “might reach 3% or maybe even 3.5%,” with the figure depending on “what’s happening in the world and in our economy,” as quoted by Bloomberg. Germany is, among other things, seeking to step up its arms manufacturing capacity, the minister explained.

According to Pistorius, Germany and other European nations should not be content with reaching NATO’s 2% target, as that “can only be the starting point.”

At the same event, Chancellor Scholz vowed that Germany would fulfil NATO’s spending commitment “in the 2020s, the 2030s and beyond.” However, his defense chief acknowledged that there is a huge question mark hanging over where the country will be able to find the money once the special fund is exhausted after 2027.

Over the past few months, Pistorius has repeatedly spoken about the need for a thorough upgrade of the German military and the creation of a “credible deterrent” in the face of a potential military confrontation with Russia in the future.

Last month, the minister clarified that while “at the moment, I don’t see any danger of a Russian attack on NATO territory or on any NATO partner-country,” the situation could change down the road.

Commenting on Pistorius’ remarks in January, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied that Russia has any such plans, claiming that politicians in European countries were increasingly using the image of an “external enemy” as a diversionary tactic amid various problems at home.

Around the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted that “no one wants a big war,” especially Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin has also stated on multiple occasions that Russia has “no geopolitical, economic… or military interest” in provoking a conflict with NATO.