Germany’s investments in defense in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will transform it into the biggest contributor to NATO in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.
Alongside the United States, Germany is “certainly making the largest contribution” to NATO, Scholz said in an interview with the ARD broadcaster.
Speaking at the close of a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies, Scholz said Germany was in the process of creating “the largest conventional army within the NATO framework in Europe.”
Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Scholz announced a 100-billion-euro ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defenses and offset decades of chronic underfunding.
He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defense, answering years of criticism from close allies that Berlin was failing to contribute enough to the alliance.
Russia’s invasion had led to a renewed conviction “that we should spend more money on defense,” Scholz said.
“We will spend an average of around 70 to 80 billion euros a year on defense over the next few years,” he said, meaning “Germany is the country that invests the most in this.”
Scholz’s announcement in February was seen as a major policy shift, upending Germany’s traditionally cautious approach to defense as a result of its post-war guilt.
Germany had steadily reduced the size of its army since the end of the Cold War from around 500,000 at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000.
NATO allies are from Tuesday gathering in Madrid for a summit, where the United States is expected to announce new long-term military deployments across Europe.