German defense minister urges European rearmament amid shifting global threats

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius gives a statement, as the last contingent of the German army Bundeswehr soldiers return from its peacekeeping force known as MINUSMA (Multinational Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) in Wunstorf, Germany, December 15, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Germany’s defense minister, Boris Pistorius, emphasized the urgent need for Europe to enhance its defense capabilities in the face of evolving military threats, asserting that potential challenges could emerge by the end of the decade.

Pistorius highlighted the increasing weapons production by Russia to sustain its invasion of Ukraine, along with threats to the Baltic states, Georgia, and Moldova, in an interview with Welt am Sonntag.

As the United States shifts its focus towards the Indo-Pacific, Pistorius stressed the importance of Europe taking on a greater role in ensuring its own security.

He acknowledged the necessity for the region to boost its weapons production, stating, “We have about 5-8 years to catch up, in terms of armed forces, industry, and society.”

Pistorius also indicated that Europe may need to consider compensating for U.S. aid to Ukraine if new funding agreements are not reached. The recent election of a more Europe-friendly government in Poland is seen as an opportunity to enhance military cooperation within the Weimar Triangle of Berlin, Paris, and Warsaw.

“We need to figure out how best to set ourselves up on the eastern flank on the basis of NATO defense plans,” Pistorius commented, expressing his intention to visit Poland early next year.

While ruling out large-scale missions similar to those in Afghanistan and Mali, Pistorius emphasized the importance of small missions, particularly in military consultancy and cooperation with countries that may not share similar values. He underscored the potential dangers of severing ties with certain nations and leaving them to the influence of Russia and China.