Germany, Europe’s leading nation, has reversed its foreign policy principles amid an escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine after years of eschewing.
In January, when Russia deployed more than 100,000 troops near the border Ukraine, the German government took a firm stance not to supply Kyiv with lethal weapons. Instead, Berlin sent 5,000 helmets and a $5 million field hospital, an action rejected by the mayor of Kyiv. ridicule.
Berlin even refused to send a German arms export license to Ukraine for other NATO countries. ‘Germany has not supported the export of lethal weapons for many years’, chancellor Olaf Schultz This position was announced at the time and firmly maintained, despite pressure from NATO allies.
However, on February 26, two days after opening in Russia Military action In Ukraine, Germany suddenly announced to send 1,000 anti-tank missiles and 500 Stinger man-portable air defense missiles to Kyiv. The German chancellor said the Russian military action was a “turning point” that led to a reversal in Berlin’s foreign and defense policy.
A day later, Chancellor Schultz showed how concrete the turning point was in a speech to the House of Commons, ending Germany’s decades of rigid foreign and defense policy.
He proposed a 100 billion euro ($111 billion) budget to renew the armed forces, ending a long-running cut in defense budgets initiated by predecessor Angela Merkel. He also pledged to increase Germany’s defense spending to 2% of GDP from the current 1.4%.
After several delays, Germany announced it would help impose sanctions on Russia, including removing some Russian banks from international payments networks. fast. They will also invest immediately to reduce their dependence on Russian energy.
According to Ed Turner, co-director of the Aston European Centre at Aston University in the UK, Scholz’s statement to the German parliament was beyond the imagination of seasoned observers.
Germany’s long-standing cautious approach to foreign policy, especially toward Russia, stems from its deeper history of reliance on Moscow for energy supplies.
Germany has a deep sense of history after two world wars in the early 20th century, during which Germany invaded neighboring countries, causing many deaths.
Germany’s tragic historical lessons have also shaped relations with Russia. More than 20 million Soviets lost their lives in World War II, what Russia calls the “Great Patriotic War” today. After World War II, Germany was divided in two by the Berlin Wall and was not unified until 1990.
After the end of the Cold War, when relations between Russia and the West gradually became strained, although there was still some willingness to challenge Moscow’s actions, Germany has largely regarded itself as a mediator and has been trying to maintain the relationship between the two countries and Russia. dialogue. But the Ukraine war changed all that.
“In his speech, Chancellor Scholz reversed many things that we thought were irreversible in German defense policy,” said Sophia Besch, senior fellow at the Centre for European Reform in Berlin.
Chancellor Scholz’s surprise announcement received an enthusiastic response from Germany’s lower house of parliament and political parties.
Mr Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) are seen as the most cautious of Russia in the three-party coalition, but support the prime minister’s decision. Finance Minister Christian Lindner, leader of the Liberal Democrats (FDP), favours increased defence spending, while the Greens are not against arms exports.
The Christian Democratic opposition party opposes increased defence spending but supports other changes.
German public opinion also supports the change in Chancellor Scholz’s policy. A quick poll showed that 78 percent of Germans support arms exports and investment in the armed forces after witnessing Russia’s military operations in Ukraine. 69% are concerned that NATO will be involved in the conflict.
Germans, however, are more divided on the idea of Ukraine joining NATO Or the European Union, when people in eastern Germany protested even more strongly.
Turner, an expert, said the long-term impact of Germany’s decision to reverse policy in the current volatile situation was unclear.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine appear to help unite NATO and strengthen EU foreign policy coordination on supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons and sanctions against Russia.
“Rarely have we and our partners been so united,” Scholz said.
Combining these two factors, Turner predicts that a change in the Scholz government will make Germany more confident in future adversaries, rather than staying in a “safe zone” of diplomatic and economic support. At the same time, Germany’s increased military capabilities can be used more broadly to support foreign policy.
Either way, Chancellor Scholz’s decision completely changes Germany’s global role,” Turner said.
Cheongdam (according to Central News Agency, VOX)