German army to receive 20 million euros for Ukraine maneuvers | News | DW | 30.07.2015

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German army to receive 20 million euros for Ukraine maneuvers

The Bundeswehr is to receive millions more for its training missions. The move is targeted at NATO military exercises in eastern Europe.

The German defense ministry announced on Thursday plans to spend an additional 20 million euros ($21 million) on Bundeswehr troops to be sent for training to Germany's eastern European NATO allies.

The NATO military exercises in Ukraine were also a reason for boosting the budget from 70 million to 90 million euros, a spokesman for the defense ministry told news agency dpa.

Ministry officials also said that 2,700 German soldiers were stationed abroad, including in Mali and Turkey. The reduced deployment therefore made it easier for administrators to free troops for training.

The German military is sending 154,000 of its roughly 180,000 active soldiers abroad to participate in military exercises. Last year, the figure was around 160,000 troops - an over two-fold increase from around 73,000 fighters the year before.

Around 4,400 soldiers were to participate in 16 maneuvers in Poland and the Baltics, the defense ministry said. These were planned as a support measure for countries bordering Russia.

In addition, preparations are being made for the biggest NATO military exercise this year which will take place in Italy, Spain and Portugal. Beginning on September 28 and lasting until October 16, the training, called "Trident Juncture" will involve 36,000 soldiers from more than 30 countries. Nearly 3,000 Bundeswehr soldiers will take part in this year's training.

Criticism from the Left Party

The Defense Ministry's latest plans, especially involving training in eastern Europe have, however, drawn criticism from some political factions within the country. Heike Hänsel of the opposition Left Party accused the German government of "increasing tensions with Russia and jeopardizing the European peace framework" by participating in the NATO exercise.

The money could have been better used for Ukraine's impoverished masses or to repatriate war victims, Hänsel argued.

Relations between Russia and Western countries have strained since Moscow's annexation of Crimea last year. European Union member states and the US accuse Russia of backing separatists in Ukraine's east, who have declared their own independent republic and carried forward a war that has left more than 6,000 dead.

mg/kms (dpa, AFP)

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