Scholz, marking Ukraine invasion anniversary, calls for stronger Europe

By Thomson Reuters Feb 23, 2024 | 5:02 PM

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Europe needs to beef up its defences and make sure it can weather any military attack from outside, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in comments mark two years since Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Deterrence, defence readiness – I know these are unusual words coming from a German Chancellor. Words that we in Germany have not used for so long that they have almost been forgotten,” Scholz said in a podcast.

“But these words stand for a very important task: together with our allies, we must be so strong that nobody dares to attack us.”

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has hiked its spending on defence to 2% of output and will continue to hit that target of the NATO western defence alliance in future decades, Scholz said.

Germany is also discussing with allies France and Britain the development of distance-capable precision weapons in order to ensure its deterrence strategy remains cutting edge.

Earlier this week, Britain announced a new package of sanctions against Russia, saying it was seeking to diminish President Vladimir Putin’s weapons arsenal and war chest two years after the invasion of Ukraine.

Scholz also referred to the country’s 100 billion euro ($108 billion) special military budget, put together days after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, saying around 80 euros of that sum had already been tied to specific projects.

($1 = 0.9241 euros)

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Hugh Lawson)