Germany on Monday walked back its promise to swiftly raise defense spending to at least 2 percent of its economic output — breaching the key commitment made days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to become a more serious military force.
Berlin also sought to play down internal warnings about delays to a flagship procurement of new fighter jets.
During a government press conference, Chief Spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit scaled down expectations for Germany’s defense spending, telling journalists that the 2 percent target would be missed not only this year, but also likely next year: “It’s still open whether that [goal] will be achieved” in 2023, Hebestreit said, adding that his “cautious expectation” was that Germany would still meet the target within this legislative period, which ends in 2025.
The spokesperson’s remarks come amid growing criticism regarding the state of Germany’s military capabilities nine months after Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a Zeitenwende, or sea change, in German defense and security policy. Last week, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht came under heavy fire from within her own government coalition after it emerged that she did not order sufficient spare ammunition supplies despite long-known shortages. [Continue reading…]