The GuardianThe Guardian

German timidity is driven by self-interest as much as caution

By Observer editorial

24 Apr 2022 · 2 min read

Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Olaf Scholz delivered a bombshell of his own. Addressing an extraordinary session of the Bundestag, Germany’s chancellor declared his government would boost defence spending by €100bn (£84bn), suspend the prized Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia and reverse a long-standing ban on transferring arms to conflict zones in order to help Ukraine.

The shock announcements, termed a “revolution”, were seen as evidence that Germany, and especially Scholz’s centre-left Social Democratic party (SPD), was definitively turning away from its postwar pacifist tradition. The fact Scholz also pledged to meet Nato’s 2% of GDP defence spending obligation was cited as further proof of a historic shift in Berlin’s thinking about its role in the world.

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