German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz on Sunday announced that the country would drastically increase defense spending amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The New York Times reports.
Scholtz announced that Germany would increase its defense spending by 100 billion euros and would spend more than 2% of its gross domestic product on defense.
The move marked a massive reversal of decades of German foreign policy but Scholtz said that the Russian invasion “created a new reality” that “requires a clear response.”
The government also announced it would send 1,000 anti-tank rockets and 500 surface-to-air Stinger missiles to Ukraine, setting aside its policy against arming countries in conflict zones.
The German government came under fire in the leadup to the war for not committing to severe sanctions against the Kremlin but the country quickly moved to halt the Nord Stream 2 pipeline after the assault and over the weekend backed a European move to cut off key Russian banks from the money transfer network called SWIFT.
Scholtz said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has coldbloodedly launched a war of aggression. For one single reason: the freedom of Ukrainians challenges his own oppressive regime.”
EU arms Ukraine:
The European Union announced on Sunday that for the first time ever it will send weapons to a country under attack.
The EU said it will buy and deliver $500 million worth of weapons to Ukraine. Along with Germany, countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Belgium are also sending weapons to the country.
"President Zelensky's leadership and his bravery, and the resilience of the Ukrainian people, are outstanding and impressive. They are an inspiration for all of us," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, calling the new policy a "watershed moment."
EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said that member states would also send fighter jets.
"[Ukrainian Foreign] Minister Kuleba has been asking us that they need the kind of fighter jets that the Ukrainian army is able to operate. And we know what kind of planes, and some member states have these kind of planes," he said.
Switzerland picks a side:
Switzerland over the weekend ended its longstanding neutrality policy and announced that it would join the rest of its European allies in imposing financial sanctions on Russia.
Switzerland, a popular destination for Russian money, plans to seize the assets of Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and more than 350 other individuals sanctioned by the EU.
Switzerland said the move was in response to “the unprecedented military attack by Russia on a sovereign European state.”
Data shows that Russian companies and individuals currently have $11 billion of assets in the country.