German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced Sunday that the country is considering purchasing a missile defense system that could be deployed against a potential Russian airstrike. Scholz told German media outlet ARD, “We need to be aware that we have a neighbor who is prepared to use violence to enforce their interests.” The consideration of a missile defense system is indicative of Germany’s changing attitude toward displaying a more robust defensive force after years of timidness over expressing military strength.
The consideration of a new missile defense system is just the most recent example of an escalation of Germany’s military defenses. Just days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Scholz announced that Germany would increase defense spending to more than 2 percent of its economic output and direct $110 billion to its defense budget. The increase is a considerable change, as defense spending in 2020 was capped at $56 billion, half of the amount currently apportioned for 2022. Over the weekend, in an interview with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Andreas Schwarz, a member of parliament for Scholz’s Social Democrats, advocated for a nationwide missile defense shield and stressed its urgency.
As tensions continue to rise between western Europe and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, the potential German acquisition of defense missiles reflects fears that the Kremlin may be a threat to the national security of Germany. Germany currently owns Patriot air defense units, however, they cannot provide adequate protection across the entire country. Russia has stationed nuclear-capable stealth Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad which could reach several European cities, including Berlin, within minutes. These missiles fly out of the range of conventional air defense systems, making them invulnerable to German Patriot missiles. Scholz warned Sunday that Germany and its European allies must prepare in order to prevent the Kremlin from using any military threat to force concessions.
The missile system currently being considered by the German government is the Israeli-made Arrow 3 System, which boasts a greater range and altitude than conventional missile defense systems, as well as the flexibility to be used in a broad swath of potential situations.
While the purchase of the Israeli Arrow 3 missile defense system has not yet been confirmed, officials in Germany seem hopeful about the system.
Initially, Germany was not so resolute in its response to Russian aggression towards Ukraine. Prior to the invasion, German officials held conflicting stances on joining international sanctions on Russia out of fear that doing so may harm their own economy. Germany also refrained from providing Ukraine with weapons and military aid and found itself caught in controversy as reports detailed that German private military contractors had made deals with the Russian government to train troops in 2011.
Germany has since imposed sanctions on Russia, and announced in late February that it would halt its certification process of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in an effort to damage the Russian economy as it continues its invasion of Ukraine.
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