NAfter US presidential candidate Donald Trump relativized NATO's obligation to provide assistance, CDU defense politician Roderich Kiesewetter has spoken out in favor of tripling the Bundeswehr's special assets. “I would not rule out an increase in special funds for the Bundeswehr. It is completely clear that we need 300 billion instead of 100 billion so that the Bundeswehr can become combat-ready,” Kiesewetter told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

However, misuse of the money to plug budget holes must be ruled out. In addition, a permanent defense budget of at least two percent of economic power must be achieved in parallel. However, this can only be achieved “with re-prioritisation and clear structural reforms”.

The loan-financed special fund was decided after the Russian attack on Ukraine in order to eliminate equipment deficiencies in the Bundeswehr. It was complained several times that the 100 billion euros were not enough. At the beginning of last year, the Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl, said that she was hearing from experts and the troops that 300 billion euros would be needed to “significantly change something” in the Bundeswehr. “It doesn’t seem like it came out of thin air,” she said.

Black: Exclude defense from the debt brake

Against the background of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, but also the uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump's presidential candidacy in the USA, there is currently a struggle over the future financing of the Bundeswehr. The federal government wants to implement NATO's goal of spending at least two percent of economic output on defense.

For Germany, this means – roughly speaking – that more than 20 billion euros will likely have to be added to the defense budget of around 50 billion euros every year. This is probably possible this year because of the special fund. It remains to be seen how the goal will be achieved in the medium term once the special fund is exhausted.

The SPD budget politician Andreas Schwarz told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that spending on defense and civil protection should be permanently excluded from the debt brake in the Basic Law because of the uncertainties in the USA and because of the threat from Russia. Germany urgently needs to invest in civil and disaster protection and needs much more cyber defense, bunkers, mobile operating theaters and hospital supplies.

Schwarz also argued that Germany urgently needs to invest in civil defense and disaster control, “we need much more cyber defense, bunkers, mobile operating rooms, hospital supplies.” The Union must also have an interest in this. “It is clear that we would need a two-thirds majority in order to be able to change the Basic Law accordingly. Such a solution might also be a bridge for the FDP to cross,” he said.

Strong criticism of Trump's statements

The traffic light coalition has kept open the possibility of suspending the debt brake again this year if Germany has to significantly increase spending to support Ukraine again.

At a campaign event in the state of South Carolina over the weekend, Trump said that the “president of a great country” had once asked him whether the USA would still protect this country from Russia even if it did not pay for defense spending. He replied: “No, I wouldn’t protect you.” In fact, he would “even encourage Russia to do whatever the hell they want.”

It remained unclear whether such a conversation had ever taken place between Trump and a head of state, as the Republican also said: “Let's assume that happened.”

Trump was heavily criticized for his statements from many quarters, including from Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell.