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Germany reports record defence spending ahead of NATO meeting

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DPA/The Local - [email protected]
Germany reports record defence spending ahead of NATO meeting
Troops of the German armed forces Bundeswehr at the military air base in Wunstorf, northern Germany. Photo: Ronny HARTMANN / AFP

For the first time in thirty years, Germany has reported to NATO planned defence spending that would amount to two percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

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This comes after German leaders have suggested, more and more urgently, for a need to bolster defence forces. 

It is clear to everyone "that we have to put significantly more money into defence,” government spokesman Steffan Hebestreit told DPA in Berlin.

Additionally, German and European leaders have recently expressed concern and criticism in response to comments made by Donald Trump, at a campaign appearance in the US, which implied that he would not provide American support to allies with low defence spending in the event of a Russian attack.

READ ALSO: Would Germans take up arms to defend their country?

According to research by DPA, the German government has budgeted a sum that equates to 73.41 billion dollars for the defence alliance in the current year. This is a record value for Germany in absolute terms and, according to the current NATO forecast, would equate to 2.01 percent of the country’s GDP this year.

Germany has achieved this target with the help of the €100 billion special fund for the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr), which is to be exhausted by 2027. The federal government reiterated on Wednesday that Germany intends to continue to meet the target in the following years from 2028 onwards.

Regardless of the increasing expenditure, the Bundeswehr is far from the declared goal of being fit for war. Notably, it had 181,500 enlisted soldiers left at the turn of the year, which is 1,500 fewer men and women than a year earlier. Additionally, weapons systems that have been ordered may take years to arrive.

READ ALSO: Germany wants to become 'backbone' of Europe's defence

There are doubts as to whether the army division, which is promised to be operational by 2025, will then be ready. In an interview with Welt am Sonntag, Inspector General Carsten Breuer admitted that Germany will only be able to provide NATO with some of its capabilities later than promised. 

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According to documents from the NATO archives, Germany last spent two percent of its GDP on defence in 1992. During the Cold War, the rate was usually over three percent.

The development of defence spending by NATO countries is to be discussed this Thursday at a meeting of defence ministers at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Wednesday that he expects 18 of the 31 allies to achieve NATO's goal of spending two percent of their GDP on defence this year. That would be six times as many as in 2014. At that time, only three alliance partners had achieved the two percent target.

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