VIENNA (AP) – Germany’s stunning decision to send anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine – abandoning its long-held refusal to export weapons to conflict zones – is nothing less than a historic break with its post-World War II foreign policy.
The typically low-key Chancellor Scholz said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine required a dramatically different response from Germany than in the past.
“With his invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, President Putin created a new reality,” Scholz told the Bundestag, his speech repeatedly greeted by applause, particularly his condemnations of the Russian leader. “This reality demands a clear answer. We’ve given one.”
Scholz said Germany is sending anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine.
He also said the country is committing EUR100 billion (USD113 billion) to a special fund for its armed forces and will raise its defence spending above two per cent of GDP, a measure on which it had long lagged. Germany’s about-face served as a potent example of just how fundamentally Russia’s war in Ukraine is reshaping Europe’s post-World War II security policy.
Germany’s foreign policy has long been characterised by a strong aversion to the use of military force, an approach German politicians explain as rooted in its history of military aggression against its neighbours during the 20th-Century.
While a strong United States ally and NATO member, post-war Germany has attempted to maintain good ties with Moscow, a policy also driven by business interests and Germany’s energy needs.
“Many of the things that Olaf Scholz said would have been unthinkable even months ago,” said Marcel Dirsus, a non-resident fellow at the University of Kiel’s Institute for Security Policy. “It’s become very clear that Russia has simply gone too far, and as a result, Germany is now waking up.”