But Russia’s success in Ukraine would call all this into question. That’s why it cannot and must not succeed, and why supporting Ukraine in its self-defense is so vital. Scholz was firm on the point in Washington: “Failure by the U.S. Congress to fund continued support will undermine Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” he said. Russia would win. Everyone else, including America, would lose.
Scholz didn’t just have the best argument on his side though. He’d also come to Washington after making a fundamental about-face on policy toward Russia, Ukraine and European security more broadly. Plus, he could now tout Germany’s own contributions as an example to be followed.
Finally gone is Germany’s long-held notion that security rests on trade and interdependence with a potential adversary. For example, as a country that imported over half of all its gas from Russia before Moscow’s full-scale invasion in 2022, those imports had already fallen to zero by June 2023 — despite the fact that the cost to Germany has been significant.
Moreover, for the first time in decades, Berlin is taking defense seriously.
This all started with Scholz’s speech on Feb. 27, 2022, announcing the country’s “Zeitenwende” — its historic pivot. Recognizing that security depended on a strong defense, Scholz committed to spending €100 billion on buying new equipment and meeting NATO’s goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. And while overcoming bureaucratic inertia has proven difficult, Berlin will meet NATO’s defense spending goal this year after all. It will play a key part in bolstering NATO’s defense and deterrence efforts as well, including the deployment of a brigade in Lithuania starting next year.
Furthermore, Germany has also become Ukraine’s largest supporter in Europe by far, sending both more military and economic aid than any other nation aside the U.S. The over €17 billion in military support Berlin has committed to Ukraine through October 2023 (according to the most up-to-date data) is more than a third of the U.S. commitment (€44 billion) and more than double that of Britain’s (€7 billion), making Germany the third largest contributor.