According to German Bild am Sonntag, the defense chief is otherwise threatening to put the plug on an international arms project. Von der Leyen’s department has already worked out several items for the “kill list,” which, according to Der Spiegel, include cooperation on submarines and the purchase of 6 C-130 transport planes desperately needed by the Bundeswehr.
The amount requested by von der Leyen is significantly greater than the €5.5. billion proposed by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz over four years. The request comes after the defense ministry slammed Scholz’s plan as “inadequate,” citing “accumulated needs and required modernization, particularly in the medium term.”
It also follows reports that the German Army is planning to spend around €450 million on brand new rocket launchers, drones, helicopters, and cargo aircraft, after the US blasted Berlin for not contributing its fair share to NATO.
Such militarization plans have been slammed by German political figures and parties, including Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who warned Chancellor Angela Merkel in August of last year not to “kneel”to Donald Trump’s armament demands. That same month, leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) also sent a “clear no” to Trump’s call to boost the military budgets of NATO states to two percent of GDP.
The new US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, also said on Friday that Germany was not acting quickly enough to increase its military spending, and called on NATO allies to meet the target of two percent of GDP on defense spending. “European nations must bear the necessary responsibilities for their security and make the case to their fellow citizens why it is critical to fulfil their obligations on defense spending,” he told reporters following a NATO meeting in Brussels.