A pledge by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to meet NATO military spending targets of two percent of GDP, made in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will now not be realized, a government spokesperson confirmed on Monday, Dec. 5.

 The promise came on Feb. 27, just three days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, amid mounting pressure from the international community for Germany to ignore its policy of not supplying weapons in foreign wars.

 Speaking at an emergency session of the German parliament, Scholz confirmed that weapons would be sent to Ukraine and said that a special €100 billion fund would be set up to upgrade Germany’s armed forces.

 Russia’s invasion was “a turning point in the history of our continent,” he told lawmakers. “The horrific images from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and Mariupol show the whole ruthlessness of Putin.”

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 “It is clear that we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country in order to protect our freedom and our democracy.”

 Promising that Germany’s defense spending would rise from its current average of 1.5 percent of GDP, Scholtz added that Germany would seek “to build the next generation of battle tanks and aircraft together with our European partners, and in particular France, here in Europe.”

 “We need planes that fly, ships that sail, and soldiers who are optimally equipped for their missions,” he added.

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 The size and strength of Germany’s military has reduced significantly over the decades, with 500,000 German soldiers by the end of the Cold War dwindling to around 180,000 as of 2022.

 

 German army chief criticizes underinvestment

 

 Just three days before Scholz’s announcement, Alfons Mais, chief of the German army, heavily criticized underinvestment in military equipment.

 “The Bundeswehr, the army that I am privileged to lead, is more or less bare.” He wrote in a LinkedIn post. “The options that we can offer the politicians to support the alliance are extremely limited.”

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 “We all saw it coming and were not able to get through with our arguments, to draw the conclusions from the Crimean annexation and implement them,” he added. “This does not feel good! I am pi**ed off!”

 Mais’ frustration, however, is now set to go unabated.

 Speaking at a press conference on Dec. 5, Chief Berlin Spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit sought to manage, and even scale down, expectations relating to Germany’s defense spending.

 Hebestreit told journalists that the target promised by Scholz would likely not only be missed this year, but also the next, saying: “It’s still open whether that will be achieved in 2023.”

 There was still, however, a “cautious expectation” that Germany would meet the target within the present legislative period, which ends in 2025, Hebestreit added.

 Meanwhile, the U.S. is still considering expanding the training of Ukrainian forces at one of its military bases in Germany.

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 If adopted, it would mean that up to 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers would be trained in more sophisticated battlefield tactics at the base each month, according to multiple U.S. officials. 

 The proposal is currently under review by the Biden administration, with a senior White House official declining to comment on the specifics, telling CNN at the end of November: “We won’t get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made, but we are constantly looking for ways to make sure the Ukrainians have the skills they need to succeed on the battlefield as Ukraine defends its territory from Russian aggression.”

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