NewsGermany's dilemma: Supporting Ukraine without provoking Russia

Germany's dilemma: Supporting Ukraine without provoking Russia

Germany's dilemma: Supporting Ukraine without provoking Russia
Images source: © GETTY | Sean Gallup

6:38 AM EDT, March 12, 2024

Polish expert Justyna Gotkowska mentioned that Germany has allocated just over $7.6 billion to military aid for Ukraine and plans to increase this support to $10.8 billion in the forthcoming years. The German government is financially prepared to undertake such commitments.

The Kiel Institute for the World Economy has identified Germany as the second-largest donor of aid to Ukraine, following the USA. This ranking, which sums up both provided and planned aid amounting to over $18.4 billion, may overstate Germany's support, thereby placing it so high in the aid rankings.

Comparing the $7.6 billion figure, Germany's military aid to Ukraine is on par with the United Kingdom's and double that of France's, the expert observed.

Gotkowska also discussed the implications of comparing GDP ratios. By this measure, Germany will fall in the rankings, while Baltic and Nordic countries, along with Poland, will emerge as leaders.

Discussing the reasons behind Germany's hesitation to supply Taurus missiles to Ukraine, Gotkowska pointed to Scholz's opposition as the primary factor.

The Chancellor is influenced by a significant faction within the SPD, which advocates for peace talks with Russia and opposes supplying Ukraine with weapons that might give it a military edge. This group believes that escalating the conflict would not lead to a resolution, she explained.

Another factor is the approach of state elections in Germany, where pro-Russian sentiments are gaining traction among far-left (the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance) and far-right parties (AFD), particularly in East Germany. Gotkowska believes this political climate influences Scholz's stance on Taurus missiles, aiming to either bolster the SPD's position or at least maintain it before the September elections in the eastern states.

Scholz is also cautious about escalating the conflict, fearing its expansion into a NATO-wide war.

For the past two years, Scholz has carefully considered the transfer of various weapon systems to Kyiv. Discussions have covered tanks in January 2023, planes, and now long-range Taurus missiles, noted the Deputy Director.

She highlighted that Taurus missiles, with their longer range than British Storm Shadow or French SCALP missiles, could target Russian territory or the Crimea bridge.

Scholz is apprehensive about the possibility of Taurus missile attacks on Russian territory, fearing it could provoke retaliatory actions against Germany, assessed the Deputy Director.

2 percent of GDP on defense: Can Germany meet its goal?

Regarding the summons of the German ambassador to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gotkowska linked it to Russia's attempt to dissuade Germany from transferring Taurus missiles to Ukraine, based on leaked Bundeswehr officers’ discussions claiming Germany need not be directly involved in operating the missiles. This revelation contradicts the Chancellor’s narrative of necessary German involvement in the conflict, she noted.

Concerning the Bundeswehr and military expenditure, Gotkowska stated that Germany is likely to allocate 2 percent of its GDP to defense this year, including funds from the regular defense budget and the Bundeswehr modernization fund. This arrangement provides critical support for modernizing military equipment, a need intensified by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, she underlined that the Bundeswehr still requires more funding to meet NATO obligations, mentioning that without additional financial provisions, the defense spending might drop to 1.5 percent of GDP. Currently, there are no long-term strategies to increase the defense budget further, Gotkowska emphasized.

"NATO is fulfilling its role"

In discussing NATO's current status, Gotkowska mentioned that since 2014, the Alliance has been implementing reforms aimed at strengthening defense and deterrence against Russia. These reforms have accelerated since Crimea's annexation, especially in 2022, and include regional defense plans and the restructuring of forces and commands.

NATO is heading in the right direction, backed by a strong US presence in Europe. With nearly 10,000 American soldiers on its eastern flank and up to 15,000, including Romania, along with other allies' support, NATO is effectively deterring Russian aggression. At this moment, the Alliance is serving its purpose, with a unified NATO and strong US presence preventing any Russian advance - she concluded, adding a note of concern about the future of European security, especially after the upcoming presidential elections in the USA.

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