Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that Germany would sharply increase its defense spending to more than 2% of its economic output in one of a series of policy shifts sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Germany also this week halted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia and agreed to send weapons to Ukraine after long resisting pressure from Western allies on both issues and facing accusations of hardening the Kremlin.
“We will have to invest more in the security of our country to protect freedom and democracy,” Schulz said in an extraordinary session of the lower house of the Bundestag on Sunday.
Germany has long resisted pressure from the United States and others to increase its defense spending to 2% of economic output in light of its history in the 20th century and the resulting strong pacifism among its population.
According to NATO statistics, Germany is expected to spend 1.53% of its GDP on defense in 2021.
Schulz said the government decided to provide 100 billion euros for military investments from the 2022 budget. The entire German defense budget, by comparison, amounted to 47 billion euros in 2021.
Schulz said Germany may buy USF-35 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin to replace the old Tornado in the nuclear engagement role.
But he said the next generation of combat aircraft and tanks should be built in Europe jointly with European partners, particularly with France.
He also said Germany should move quickly to reduce its dependence on Russia as an energy supplier.
On Germany’s decision to send defensive anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles and ammunition to Ukraine after it had long refused on the grounds that the country had not sent weapons to conflict areas, Schulz said simply: “There can be no other response to Putin’s aggression.”
Schulz said the Russian leadership would soon feel the heavy price it would have to pay for his war.
“We reserve the right to impose further penalties without any taboos,” he said.