BERLIN – An invasion of a nearby sovereign state, threats of nuclear attack, images of civilians confronting Russian tanks and a series of humiliations from allies shake Germany’s confidence. believed for decades in a militaristic foreign policy. born of the crimes of the Third Reich.
But once Prime Minister Olaf Scholz decided to act, the situation for the country turned swift.
“February. 24, 2022, marks a historic turning point in the history of our continent,” Mr. Scholz said in remarks to a special session of Congress on Sunday, citing the date of the General Assembly. President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to launch an unprovoked attack on Ukraine.
He announced that Germany would increase military spending to more than 2% of the country’s economic output, starting immediately with 100 billion euros, or $113 billion, to invest in the underfunded armed forces. to the worst of the country. He added that Germany will accelerate the construction of two terminals to receive liquefied natural gas, or LNG, as part of efforts to reduce the country’s dependence on Russian energy.
“At the heart of the matter is the question of whether power can violate the law,” Mr. Scholz said. “Will we allow Putin to go back in time to the great powers of the 19th century? Or whether we set our own limits for someone as warm as Putin.”
The events of the past week have shaken pacifist nations, as well as those with closer ties to Russia. Both found the invasion impossible to follow quietly. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s pro-Russian, anti-immigrant prime minister who condemned sanctions against Russia just weeks ago, reversed his stance this weekend. And Japan, which was hesitant to impose sanctions on Russia in 2014, strongly condemned the invasion last week.
In Germany, the chancellor’s one-week limited speech saw the country abandon more than 30 years of trying to balance Western alliances with strong economic ties with Russia. Starting with Tuesday’s decision to cut off an $11 billion natural gas pipeline, the German government’s steps since then, spurred on by the horror of Mr. aimed at citizens of a democratic, sovereign European country, marking a fundamental change not only in domestic foreign and defense policies, but in its relationship with Russia.
“He has just strategically repositioned Germany,” Daniela Schwarzer, executive director for Europe and Eurasia at Open Society Foundations, said of Mr. Scholz’s speech.
Germany, and especially Mr. Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats, have long advocated a comprehensive approach to Russia, arguing the risk of pushing Moscow out of Europe. But the image of Ukrainians fleeing the invasion brought back memories of older Germans fleeing the advancing Red Army during World War II, and angered a younger generation. with the promise of a united, peaceful Europe.
On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of Germans marched through central Berlin to demonstrate in support of Ukraine, waving placards that read “Stop Putin” and “No War”.
Praising the Germans’ commitment to European unification and the deep cultural and economic ties that stretch back centuries, Mr. Scholz blamed Russia’s aggression on Putin, not Putin. not the Russian people. But he has no doubt that Germany will no longer sit back and rely on other countries for its natural gas supply or military security.
“The story on which Scholz works today still holds true,” said Ms. Schwarzer. “He talked about responsibility to Europe, what it takes to provide democracy, freedom and security. He has no doubt that this must happen.”
Resolute denial of Nazi Germany’s gruesome past means that the country has long adopted a policy of diplomacy and deterrence. But since Russia invaded, many of Germany’s allies have accused the country of not doing enough to strengthen itself and Europe.
In 2014, Germany pledged to increase military spending to 2% of total economic output – a target set for NATO member countries – within a decade, but projections suggest the government is not on track to achieve that goal, even as that deadline approaches. This topic has long been a source of conflict between Berlin and Washington, spend more than 3 percent GDP for defense. The debate escalated under former President Donald J. Trump, who frequently berated the German government for failing to exert weight in the alliance.
In his speech, Mr. Scholz proposed that military spending be embedded in the country’s constitution. It would ensure that the country would not again have a military force of soldiers armed with mistakenly fired rifles, planes that can’t fly and ships that can’t sail, he said. And he made it clear that the double reduction in defense was in Germany’s own interest.
“We are doing this for us, for our own safety,” he said.
On Saturday, the German government refused to oppose two other measures its allies in Europe and the United States are seeking: cutting key Russian banks from the money-transfer network known as SWIFT and send weapons to Ukraine.
That followed a warning from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who had traveled to Berlin to personally “shake Germany’s conscience” over how to respond to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. “Today is no time for selfishness,” said Mr. Morawiecki, announcing his visit on Twitter.
Understanding Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is the root cause of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be within its natural sphere of influence, and it is extremely worried about Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of it joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is not included in this category, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
Germany has had a policy of refusing to send weapons into conflict zones, even though it has a steady business selling them to countries in the Middle East. But after meeting Morawiecki – who was joined by President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania – the government announced it would send 1,000 man-portable anti-tank missiles and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine.
It also lifted an objection to allowing German-made weapons held by the Dutch and Estonian governments to be sent to Ukraine, facilitating a transfer they had blocked for months.
Just a few weeks ago, the German government was criticized for what critics called its tedious response to the Russian increase, after it announced that it would send Ukraine 5,000 helmets. danger and a field hospital to help the country defend itself.
“Within just a week, political taboos about military spending on relations with Russia have dropped to the outside,” said Sudha David-Wilp, a transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. roadside”. “Germany is pooling money to strengthen its defense capabilities and is getting ready to isolate Russia even at the expense of its own economy.”
Last week, Mr. Scholz also suggested pressure from abroad to abandon a disputed natural gas pipeline that would connect Russia to Germany directly, Nord Stream 2, as his Economy Minister claimed the land the country will get rid of its dependence on Russia, which is currently supplying. more than half of its natural gas needs.
In the near future, Germany will ensure that there are strategic reserves of coal and natural gas, similar to the oil reserves it holds, Scholz said. In the long term, Germany wants to completely transform its energy sector to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, but this process will take time and in the short term, Germans will feel the pressure of increasing prices of energy and other commodities.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin, whose German arms requests for months seemed to have fallen on deaf ears, heard Mr. Scholz’s speech on Sunday from the balcony of visitors and was heard by the founders. Legal of all sides welcome for a minute, even the far right Substitute for the German side.
Its legislators, who frequently use their position to stand in front and loudly oppose government speeches, instead applauded certain elements of Mr. Scholz’s speech, which The largest opposition party, the Christian Democratic Party, agreed in favor.
Ms. David-Wilp said: “The main political parties in Germany recognize this is the time in 1939 and appear ready to support this new government in the face of the challenge ahead.
Christopher F. Schuetze contribution report.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/27/world/europe/germany-ukraine-russia.html Contrary to foreign policy, Germany increases military spending, weapons for Ukraine