Germany changes military strategy despite fear of what Putin might do

The “period of change” announced by the chancellor takes shape: weapons for Ukraine, 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr. But there are reasons why decisions are not made quickly, despite criticism.

While the Bundestag approved this Thursday (04.28.2022) that Germany would support Ukraine with heavy weapons, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Japan. Germany will host the G7 presidency next June, and visiting members in their respective countries is mandatory. That is, the trip was scheduled for a long time.

And yet, criticism rained down in the Bundestag. “A state political speech would have been required,” said parliamentarian Johann Wadephul, from the largest opposition faction, which includes the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parties. The head of the parliamentary group, Friedrich Merz, added that “this is hesitation, this is doubt, this is fear.”

To understand Scholz’s way of acting, one must take a look at the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the chancellor’s party, of which many pacifists are members, such as the head of the parliamentary faction, Rolf Mützenich, who believes that there can only be security in Europe together with Russia, and not against Russia.

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Mützenich always believed that Germany should establish a good relationship with both Russia and the United States. And indeed, economic ties with Moscow intensified. Under the mandate of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, for example, a high degree of energy dependence on Russia was reached.

Now, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the SPD has to reflect on its relationship with Russia and assess its military strength. That’s not easy for anyone in the German government, and Olaf Scholz, who relies on his party’s backing for every political decision he makes, knows it too.

Scholz is a pragmatist, but also a strategist. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the German chancellor had to act decisively. He knew that with his declaration to rearm the Bundeswehr he would move away from the German dogma of not supplying arms to crisis and war zones, and that the “period of change” would reverse the social democratic convictions that had ruled for decades.

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Many in the Greens party also continue in the tradition of the peace movement, and when Olaf Scholz announced a “period of change” in Parliament on February 27, there were many surprised and puzzled faces among his members, as well as in the SPD.

And while the pacifisas among the Greens reacted quickly to the new situation, the SPD continues to have difficulty accepting it. Above all, Mützenich, who tries to divert the impending political decisions. “There are no easy answers, not even about the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine. Whoever sees it easy, acts irresponsibly,” he said recently.

But the German chancellor has also been irritated in recent weeks by international pressure, especially criticism from the parties in his government coalition: while the SPD held back any decision-making, the Greens and the FDP liberals demanded more speed .

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