Berlin has backed off its plan to legally commit itself to meeting NATO’s two percent yearly military spending target, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday. Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s draft of a new budget financing law was passed by parliament after a clause pledging to meet the target was deleted at the last minute.
Instead, in keeping with Berlin’s National Security Strategy, it will maintain its policy to aim for spending two percent of GDP on military spending on average over a five-year period. Germany’s Foreign Ministry, led by Annalena Baerbock, opposed the plan favored by the Defense Ministry to commit to 2 percent spending every year.
“From now on, we will invest more than 2 percent of the GDP into our defense year after year,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared in February 2022 when he announced the Zeitenwende, a sea change in German foreign policy.
This came after the Kremlin launched its war with Kiev, a de facto NATO member on Russia’s doorstep. In order to “weaken” Russia, the conflict quickly morphed into a proxy war against Moscow led by the Washington-led alliance.
As a result of the proxy war with Russia, Berlin has recently taken steps which severely damaged relations between Germany and the Kremlin. Namely, green-lighting the export of Poland’s Soviet-era warplanes which originally came from German military stocks.
Additionally, yielding to pressure from Washington and elsewhere inside NATO, Scholz approved the transfer of German-made main battle tanks to Kiev, and sent its own tanks as well, vastly escalating the tensions with Russia.
Earlier in the war, Scholz had explicitly ruled out just such steps over concerns that sending heavy weapons, including tanks and planes, to Ukraine would lead to a direct war between the North Atlantic alliance and Russia. In May, Berlin announced it was providing Kiev with a massive arms package worth nearly $3 billion, including 30 Leopard 1 tanks as well as Marder fighting vehicles. This was Germany’s largest transfer of weapons since the war began.
NATO members have been increasing their defense spending since Russia’s invasion, which has been a boon for weapons makers particularly in the US and the UK. According to Reuters, half of a $103 billion special fund Berlin has set up to modernize the German military will be spent purchasing arms made by the US military industrial complex.