According to local media, social democrat Boris Pistorius is the most likely to take over as Germany’s defense minister. The announcement is expected to be made on Tuesday (17). Christine Lambrecht’s resignation from the post brings more uncertainty to a country with a war raging about 700 kilometers from its border and comes just days before a high-level international meeting to discuss sending more weapons to Ukraine.
The resignation of Social Democrat Christine Lambrecht as Germany’s Defense Minister was expected. Since she took office just over a year ago, she, who is from the same Social Democratic Party as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, had collected controversies, gaffes.
Lambrecht became best known internationally in January last year when she proudly announced the donation of 5,000 German military helmets to Ukraine at a time when Russian troops were besieging that country’s borders. The donation was called a “joke” by the Polish government. The mayor of Kiew, Vitali Klitschko, responded sarcastically, asking whether the next batch of German aid would be a batch “of pillows.
In this way, Christine Lambrecht became an international symbol of Germany’s hesitant policy toward the war in Ukraine and, more specifically, the supply of arms to Kiev.
Among the controversial appearances of the now former minister was a visit to German soldiers in Mali, when she frisked the troops wearing high-heeled shoes, which was considered inappropriate for the situation, as well as being a violation of the military’s safety rules.
New Year’s Message
The final straw that caused her resignation seems to have been a video she posted on her private Instagram profile on New Year’s Day. In the footage, the then-minister cites the war in Ukraine, giving a speech under the burst of fireworks in the sky in the background, saying she had lived through “many special experiences” in 2022 that gave her the opportunity to have “meetings with interesting and cool people.” The message caused a barrage of criticism, being seen as a public relations disaster.
But it was not only these stumbles that cost the minister her post. She was also seen, from the beginning of her mandate, as someone who lacks the experience for the job. A lawyer by training, Lambrecht, 57, was appointed justice minister in 2019 under Chancellor Angela Merkel, and in May 2021 she also took over the family ministry. She had been in charge of the defense portfolio since December 2021
Critics have complained in recent months about the slow process of buying new equipment to renew the German Armed Forces at a time when Europe has been rocked by war.
Urgency for a new name
And precisely because of this war in Ukraine, there is urgency to find a replacement name. The local press has mentioned a few names as possible replacements for Lambrecht. But the appointment also comes up against the ministry’s commitment to parity, which the current German government has promised to follow by appointing as many women as men to the cabinet.
Some say that in case of lack of another qualified woman for the post, one solution could be a chair dance, i.e. the reassignment of a minister from another portfolio.
The fact is that there is an urgent need to find a new name for the German Defense Ministry. Lambrecht’s resignation comes amidst Germany’s largest rearmament operation since the Second World War. A project launched in February in response to the war in Ukraine and involving a record investment of 100 billion euros promised by Scholz, Lambrecht has apparently been unable to manage it to his satisfaction.
Allied summit in Ramstein
The head of the Defense Ministry is vacant at a delicate moment, just days before a high-level international meeting at the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany. The meeting of the so-called Contact Group for the Defense of Ukraine is scheduled for this Friday (20).
The meeting is expected to deliberate on sending more weapons to Kiev. Allies have increased pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government to join an international coalition to jointly send heavy tanks or at least allow the re-export of these vehicles.
Poland has promised to supply Leopard 2 to Kiev, but depends on Germany’s permission, as the equipment is manufactured in the country and its re-export can only take place after Berlin’s approval. The UK has also announced that it will send its modern Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Because of this, the expectation is that after this meeting in Ramstein Berlin will announce the decision to enable the supply of modern German Leopard 2 combat tanks to Ukraine, breaking yet another paradigm of German defense policy.A ministra da Defesa alemã, Christine Lambrecht, apresentou sua renúncia ao chefe do governo, Olaf Scholz REUTERS – FABRIZIO BENSCH
*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***