The German Defense Minister promised on Thursday to make the Bundeswehr “the backbone of collective defense in Europe”. He proposed new defense guidelines in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Minister Boris Pistorius said at a conference in Berlin that “Germany’s partners in Europe, in North America and in the world” expect “us to take our responsibility.” The previous guidelines for German defense date from 2011.
The nineteen-page document presented on Thursday states that the Bundeswehr must be “well prepared for war in all domains”. It is not the first time that Pistorius has used those words, which sparked controversy in Germany. With Russia’s “brutal invasion” of Ukraine, the war is “back in Europe,” he noted.
In its guidelines, the government emphasizes that the Bundeswehr must be able to engage internationally, as it already did in the Balkans and the Sahel region. The guidelines also address the war in the Middle East. “Particular importance is attached to Israel’s right to exist. “Israel’s security is a state cause,” it said.
The ambitions come at a price: the German government points out that it will be necessary to allocate at least 2 percent of GDP for military spending to be in line with NATO objectives. In the 1960s, military expenditure still amounted to 5 percent of GDP, falling to less than 2 percent in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2021 they amounted to only 1.3 percent.
However, nothing has been acquired yet. In January, Pistorius warned that the special fund of 100 billion euros, which Prime Minister Olaf Scholz announced after the Russian invasion of Ukraine to modernize the German army, “would not be enough”.