Germany is funding an army upgrade to counter the Russian threat

The German parliament voted on Friday to amend the constitution, which provides for the creation of a fund of 100 billion euros ($ 107 billion) to strengthen military defenses in the face of a divided Russia.

Members of the lower house of the Bundestag approved the measure by 567 votes to 96, with 20 abstentions, after an agreement between the center-left government and the conservative opposition on Sunday.

This turning point responds to years of criticism from close allies that Berlin has failed to achieve NATO’s goal of spending two percent of GDP on defense.

The upper house of the Bundesrat has yet to approve the measure.

“This is the moment when Germany says we are there when we need Europe,” Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock of the Greens told lawmakers.

Three days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to allocate a special budget of 100 billion euros for the rearmament of the German military and the modernization of obsolete equipment over the next few years.

But since then, critics have accused Scholz of timidity in support of Kyiv and failure to take sufficient concrete action in terms of arms supplies.

The agreement will allow Berlin to achieve NATO’s goal of spending 2.0 percent of GDP on defense “on average over several years.”

Russia on Friday praised the move, accusing Germany of “remilitarizing” and using language that outlines its Nazi past.

“We see this as another confirmation that Berlin is on the path to a new remilitarization,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “We know all too well how this could end.”

It seemed to be a reference to the rearmament program of Nazi Germany in the 1930s under Adolf Hitler, which plunged the world into war.

– “The largest army in Europe” –

The bulk of Germany’s investment – 40.9 billion euros – will go to the Air Force with the acquisition of 35 American F-35 fighters, 15 Eurofighter aircraft and 60 Chinook transport helicopters.

Nearly 20 billion euros will be allocated to the fleet, mainly for new corvettes, frigates and submarines 212 models.

More than 16 billion euros will replenish the army’s reserves with Marder transport tanks and Fuchs armored personnel carriers.

This week, Scholz said the agreement would “significantly strengthen” the security of Germany and its NATO allies.

“Germany will soon have the largest conventional army in Europe within NATO,” he told local media.

The exclusive fund will be financed by additional debt.

To do this, it was necessary to circumvent the rule of the “debt brake” enshrined in the constitution, which limits government borrowing.

That is why the government needed the support of the conservative opposition to garner the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to pass amendments to the Constitution.

Since the end of the Cold War, Germany has significantly reduced its military numbers from about 500,000 in 1990 to just 200,000 today.

According to an army report released in December, less than 30 percent of German ships were “full-fledged.” Many of the country’s fighters are unfit for flight.

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Interpol warns of the flow of illegal weapons after the war in Ukraine

Paris (AFP) June 1, 2022

Many weapons sent to Ukraine will end up in the hands of criminals in Europe and beyond, the Interpol chief warned on Wednesday, urging countries to start carefully checking weapons tracking databases. “The high availability of weapons during the current conflict will lead to the proliferation of illegal weapons in the post-conflict phase,” said Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock. This will only enable organized criminal groups, which are becoming increasingly global operations capable of … read on Germany is funding an army upgrade to counter the Russian threat

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