Amid the debate over sending tanks to Ukraine, the German Defense Minister resigned
The German Minister of Defence, christine lambrechtresigned after a series of missteps and days of speculation about his future, a blow to the Chancellor’s government Olaf Schölzwhich assesses crucial decisions on Ukraine’s armament.
Lambrecht asked to be relieved of her cabinet post, blaming intense reporting in the media as an unacceptable distraction, and Scholz agreed to the request and respects the decision, the government said on Monday.
Lambrecht, 57, had been the head of defense since Scholz became chancellor in December 2021. His critics had long claimed that the position was too big for himAlthough Scholz remained supportive of her, last month describing her as “a first-class defense minister.” The pressure against her recently mounted after an unpopular New Year’s message.
The German leader will propose a replacement for his fellow Social Democrat “promptly”, though that is unlikely to happen before Tuesday, he said. Christiane Hoffman, deputy spokesperson for Scholz, at the usual government press conference in Berlin. Lambrecht will remain in office until the federal president names a successor, Hoffmann added.
Potential candidates include SPD defense expert Eva Hoeglthe chief of staff of the Scholz chancellery, wolfgang schmidtand the Minister of Labor, Hubertus Heil. SPD co-leaders have also been appointed Saskia Eskén Y Lars Klingbeilas well as the former leader of the SPD Andrea Nahleswho currently heads the federal labor office.
Lambrecht, 57, a lawyer by training, came under close scrutiny for her alleged lack of military experience, with criticism intensifying after a poorly executed New Year’s Eve video in which she appeared to make light of Russia’s war against Ukraine. .
Lambrecht’s departure hits Scholz squarely. He had chosen her as one of his deputies when he served as finance minister in the last term of Angela Merkel and had stood by her in recent weeks even as criticism mounted.
The process has been murky. Information about his resignation came to light on Friday. The government refused to comment for days, leaving uncertainty hanging in the air.
The Social Democrats are responsible for naming a successor, and time is short. A meeting of senior defense officials from the allied countries is scheduled for Friday at the US airbase in Ramstein (Germany). Before the meeting, the government is expected to make a decision on the tank delivery.
Scholz is committed to upholding the gender parity as regards the posts of SPD ministers. This would mean either choosing another woman or implementing a broader cabinet reshuffle.
The upheaval marks a major setback for the ruling coalition and threatens to upend decisions critical to the international effort to confront the Kremlin. The Scholz Administration faces a increasing pressure to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine after Poland and Finland said they wanted to send the German-made fighting vehicles.
Germany is expected to drop its resistance and supply leopards to kyiv amid concerns about further Russian offensives in the spring, according to officials familiar with government thinking.
The war has laid bare the poor state of the armed forces in Europe’s largest economy. The defense minister post is often a poisoned chalice, with few ministers lasting long in office amid persistent underfunding. To try to reverse the decline in German military power, the Scholz government has created a special fund endowed with €100 billion (USD 108 billion).
(With information from Bloomberg and AP)