Germany’s new leadership could increase NATO spending and see US missiles stabilize

Members of the German Bundeswehr prepare a Patriot missile launching system during a press day presentation at the Luftwaffe Warbelo training center on December 18, 2012 in Warbelo, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Germany’s new coalition government is yet to take full power, but experts are mulling over its new promises to see what they mean for Germany’s future.

Many question marks center on Germany’s foreign and defense policy, especially given the current backdrop of strained relations between Russia and the rest of Europe.

The centre-left Social Democratic Party is set to take charge of the Defense Ministry, while Green Party co-leader Annalena Barbock is set to take over the Foreign Office.

Bairbock has previously said she will deal with authoritarian governments such as China and Russia with “dialogue and brutality”, leaving some skeptical about how tough the new leftist, ecologically-minded minister and coalition will be.

Germany has found itself in an awkward position as Russia has been accused of plotting a gas crisis with Europe, and of preparing itself for a possible conflict with EU ally Ukraine – both Allegations that Russia denies – final touches have also been made on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that will see Russian gas supplies sent to Germany.

On Wednesday, Germany’s new coalition – made up of the Social Democrats and Greens and centre-right Free Democrats – announced a coalition agreement indicating that Germany would remain committed to NATO and its nuclear-sharing agreement.

Three NATO members – the US, France and the UK – have nuclear weapons. Germany does not have those but does host some US nuclear weapons that German fighter jets can deploy if necessary. Such weapons are seen as a deterrent against military aggression from countries such as Russia.

NATO itself notes that the military alliance’s “nuclear deterrence also depends on US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and on supporting capabilities and infrastructure provided by the Allies.”

The document said Wednesday that the German coalition is committed to allowing those weapons to remain on German soil “as long as nuclear weapons play a role in NATO’s strategic concept, participating in Germany’s strategic discussions and planning processes.” interested in.” ,

Germany has had strained relations with its NATO allies for some time, particularly the US, when it comes to defense spending. Berlin is slowly cranking up its defense spending in line with a 2014 NATO pledge that member states should spend 2% of their GDP on defense.

In 2021, Germany spent about $53 billion on defense, an increase of 3% over the previous year, although the amount still did not reach the 2% guideline (According to NATO estimates, it was 1.53% of GDP in 2021).

Former President Donald Trump has famously slammed Germany several times over its defense spending record, accusing Germany of being a “criminal” and profiting from the presence of US troops stationed in Germany.

Trump announced last summer that he would withdraw about 12,000 US troops from Germany but the proposal was shelved this year by President Joe Biden.

Daniela Schwarzer, executive director of Europe at the Eurasia Open Society Foundation, said the new alliance is likely to continue increasing defense spending, with or without pressure from the US.

“Defense spending has increased over time, and it is very important to the German debate that it is not asking for the US president, but the previous German government that has taken that commitment,” she told CNBC on Thursday, “While saying this it is very important to remind the new government that this is an agreement that lasts.”

Given the position of the SPD and the Greens on defence, with both appearing to favor greater military cooperation at the European level – the SPD, for example, favors a European military – Schwarzer expects defense spending to continue to increase. Of.

“It’s a coalition that has two leftist parties [the SPD and Greens] Those who will not be at the forefront of defense expenditure. But I think what’s going to happen is that they’re going to increase Germany’s defense spending not in big leaps, but slowly… Also, with Greene [Party] Foreign Minister, it is also likely that Germany will invest in other areas of foreign policy, not only defence, such as humanitarian aid and civil crisis management,” she said.

“Overall I think we have content for Germany to play a stronger role within the EU but also internationally,” she said.

For her part, incoming Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock on Wednesday signaled no intention of adopting a laissez-faire approach to global geopolitics, calling for a “proactive” and interactive approach to Germany’s foreign policy.

“We live in a time where the crisis directly around us in Central Europe is getting worse,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday after the announcement of the alliance agreement.

“Look at the situation in Belarus, and the situation on Europe’s external borders. Together we have agreed to return to a more proactive European foreign policy, based on the strength of diplomacy and dialogue, and on values ​​and human rights. Cooperation.”


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