Germany won’t be meeting its NATO spending target this year, the country’s finance ministry disclosed. “Defense spending is projected to fall well short of NATO’s 2 percent target,” German state broadcaster DW News reported Wednesday.

Furthermore, the defense cuts in coming years appear to be even more drastic, dropping the country’s defense spending to 1.25% by 2023. The planned cuts fly in the face Germany’s budgetary pledges made to the North Atlantic alliance.

In recent years, Washington has repeatedly urged Berlin to honor its defense commitments. “The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable,” President Trump said at the 2018 NATO summit.

Germany’s low defense expenditure sent a “worrisome signal to Germany’s 28 NATO allies,” US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said. The country’s top defense official also objected to the finance ministry’s disclosure. The armed forces commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to “reliably” allocate funding in keeping with country’s previous commitments made to the alliance.

Following Grenell’s response, Chancellor Merkel reiterated Germany’s commitment to the NATO. Berlin, however, did not plan to meet the mandated two-percent spending target, the German Chancellor’s statement indicated. “The 1.5 percent target by 2024 is an obligation to NATO,” she told the parliament Thursday. “I guarantee and the German government guarantees that we will meet that obligation.”

In contrast, the U.S. contributes 4.2 percent of its GDP to Western military alliance. In 2017, the U.S. “accounted for 51.1 percent of the allies’ combined GDP and 71.7 percent of combined defense expenditure,” the Defense News noted.

Germany’s DW News reported the details of the country’s planned defense budget:

The Finance Ministry said Monday that an extra €2 billion ($2.27 billion) was planned for the military in 2020, but Germany’s military spending would drop in 2023 to 1.25 percent of its gross domestic product — well short of NATO’s 2 percent target set for 2025 and Germany’s promise to meet 1.5 percent by that year.

Next year’s intended outlay of €45 billion — compared to €43 billion this year — would not suffice for a “fully equipped” Bundeswehr, said Bartels, who has often highlighted defects in aircraft, tanks and submarines and the “monstrous” military bureaucracy.

“The troops expect that it [the NATO pledge] be predictably and reliably implemented,” he said, referring to Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s drive to retool Germany’s military 25 years after the Cold War.

The lowering of defense spending is a further blow to Germany’s deteriorating military capabilities. According to a German parliamentary report reviewed by the Legal Insurrection earlier this year, the country’s armed forces were running low on both equipment and manpower. The soldiers were being dispatched on combat missions without proper gear and body armor, and the recruitment levels were critically low.  The official report disclosed that “often less than 50 percent of the Bundeswehr’s tanks, ships and aircraft were available at any one time, either for training or operational purposes.”

The ill-equipped German army with its 183,000 active duty personnel now ranks third largest in terms of size in Europe, falling behind France. The Muslim-majority Turkey, also a NATO member, can muster an army twice that size.

Berlin’s growing energy dependence on Moscow makes its vulnerable to foreign intimidation. Encouraged by the EU’s approval for a Baltic Sea gas pipeline to Germany, Russia has began construction on a Black Sea pipeline aimed at German market. President Donald Trump’s repeated warnings have largely gone unheeded in Berlin and Brussels. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” he said at the NATO summit last July.

If Chancellor Merkel fails to honor her defense spending pledge, the U.S. may be forced to shoulder even larger burden within the security alliance. However, with President Trump at the helm, Washington has little appetite for stretching it defense capabilities to cover up Germany’s depleting military preparedness.

Video: Germany lags behind in NATO defense funding increases

[Cover image via YouTube]


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