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Germany: Armed forces must become 'best-equipped in Europe'

September 16, 2022

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged Europe to take on more responsibility in NATO, with Vladimir Putin aiming to make Russia an "imperial power" on the continent.

 Olaf Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Image: Frederic Kern/Future Image/IMAGO

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday once more stressed that Moscow's invasion of Ukraine was a turning point in European history, underlining the importance of Germany's armed forces in the new situation.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to redraw borders with the aim of making Russia an "imperial power" in Europe once more.

"NATO remains responsible for the collective defence of the entire alliance with a focus on Europe. Credible deterrence remains the core element," said Scholz. "We, Europeans, must however assume significantly more responsibility within NATO."

He was speaking on the second day of a two-day conference of the German armed forces that took the title "The Bundeswehr in a new era — Taking critical stock at a time of war in Europe."

What did Scholz say about the German military?

Scholz said Germany had to get used to the fact that Putin's Russia will define itself as an adversary to it, to NATO and the EU for the foreseeable future.

He said that in view of the situation, Germany's military force must become Europe's best-equipped.

"We are making it convincingly clear: Germany is ready to take on leading responsibility for the security of our continent," he said.

"As the most populous country with the greatest economic power and as a country in the middle of the continent, our army must become the cornerstone of conventional defence in Europe: the best-equipped force in Europe," he added. 

Scholz said that Germany had long "avoided really prioritizing the Bundeswehr's tasks."

But, he said, although a good army could drill wells, give humanitarian assistance and help with vaccination during pandemics, that was not the "core task."

"The core task of the Bundeswehr is to defend freedom in Europe," he said, adding that all other jobs had to take a secondary role.

The German government was also ready to review reservations with regard to military export rules that affect joint defence projects, the chancellor said. 

Debate on tanks for Ukraine

 His remarks come as lawmakers from coalition partners the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) are putting pressure on the Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor to deliver the battle tanks Kyiv has called for to help fight invading Russian forces.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, also a Social Democrat, on Thursday announced that two more rocket launchers and 50 Dingo armored vehicles would be sent to Ukraine but has so far rejected calls to deliver tanks.

In May this year, in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, Germany's coalition government and the conservative CDU/CSU alliance agreed on a €100 billion ($107 billion) boost to the country's military spending.

tj/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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