Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and its support of separatists in the East of Ukraine have become prime reasons for Germany to increase its defense expenditure, Merkel stated, DW reports.
"Challenges faced by NATO have changed dramatically in recent years,” Merkel stated. According to the German Chancellor, it is important for NATO to focus on the protection of the Alliance after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and its support of separatists in the East of Ukraine.
"To do this, we should carry out certain activities, for example, by maintaining an active presence in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe,” Merkel said. At the same time, although NATO should show "readiness to protect us,” she added that Germany should work on good relations with Russia.
"Of course, we want to have responsible relations with Russia.” That is why we will continue holding negotiations in the Russia-NATO Council,” Merkel added.
At the NATO Summit in Wales, Alliance members signed a pledge to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, to stop reducing expenditure on defense, and to gradually increase defense budgets. NATO set a period of ten years to achieve this goal.
In her speech, Merkel confirmed Germany’s obligations to increase defense expenditures to 2%. Currently, Germany is spending at 1.24%.
Addressing a German public, the Chancellor noted that the purpose of increasing the defense budget is not to have an arms race but to provide the military with the best weapons to carry out their tasks.
The German Chancellor also noted that together with the increase of defense budget, the country will spend more money on development programs.
According to Bloomberg, the USA, Great Britain, Greece and Estonia are the only countries in the Alliance that fulfill their obligations to spend 2% GDP on defense.
Earlier, Donald Trump criticized Germany for low defense expenditures though Germany is ready to spend billions on financing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.