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Scholz: Russia 'again a threat' to Europe

June 30, 2022

Berlin has pledged to swiftly ramp up its military capabilities. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million in weapons for Ukraine, saying victory against Russia was "critical."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz standing at a podium at the NATO summit
Scholz told reporters that Russia is 'threatening the international order' with its war in UkraineImage: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday that Germany was working to expand its military capabilities as fast as it can in light of Russia's threat to the international order.

"Through its aggressive policies, Russia is once again a threat to Europe and the alliance," Scholz said, referring to the country's hostilities during the Cold War.

The chancellor was speaking at the end of a three-day summit of NATO leaders in Madrid — a gathering that was dominated by Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"For Germany, this means that we will continue to expand our contribution on land, at sea and in the air," Scholz told a press conference. 

He said Germany would permanently maintain a regional marine commando in the Baltic Sea, a tank division with 15,000 soldiers, 60 aircraft and 20 naval units.

Scholz said Ukraine would receive support for as long as necessary to defend itself from Russia, however, he did not speculate on how long that might be. 

The chancellor also said Berlin would launch the ratification process for Sweden and Finland to join NATO this week and will conclude it "very quickly."

What did other leaders say?

US President Joe Biden called the summit "historic" and said Washington would soon provide $800 million (€767 million) of additional weapons for Ukraine. 

The new arms delivery is part of the $40 billion package of security and economic assistance passed by the US Congress last month. Biden said it would include a "new advanced Western air defense system, more artillery and ammunition, counter battery radars, additional ammunition for the HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems we've already given Ukraine and more HIMARS coming from other countries as well." 

Biden also said that "every inch" of NATO territory would be defended, and that Ukraine would be supported in its fight against Russia "for as long as it takes."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would raise its defense spending target from 2% of GDP to 2.5% by 2030 and urged NATO allies to do the same.

French President Emmanuel Macron said his country would soon deliver six additional CESAR self-propelled howitzers to help Ukraine against invading Russian forces.

What else happened at the summit?

During the gathering in Madrid, NATO leaders agreed to scale up military commitments along the alliance's eastern flank bordering Russia. They announced plans to massively expand NATO's rapid reaction force from 40,000 to 300,000 troops by next year.

The US said it would bolster its military presence in Europe, with a permanent base in Poland, two more Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and two more F35 squadrons in the UK.

NATO also formally invited Finland and Sweden to become members of the alliance after overcoming objections from Turkey. 

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told DW in Madrid that joining the alliance "of course brings extra security." However, he also said that the government in Helsinki was doing its best to avoid "all provocations against Russia in these circumstances," saying the two neighbors shared a peaceful border and that Finland wanted this to remain the case. 

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called the summit "transformative."

In its updated once-in-a-decade strategic concept, the alliance removed Russia's status as "partner" and instead accused Moscow of using "coercion, subversion, aggression and annexation'' to extend its reach. The document also named China's "coercive policies" as a challenge to the Western bloc's interests.

"We live in a more dangerous world and we live in a more unpredictable world, and we live in a world where we have a hot war going on in Europe," Stoltenberg said. "We want to remove any room for miscalculation, misunderstanding in Moscow, about our readiness to protect every inch of NATO territory. That's NATO's core responsibility.''

nm/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)