Daily Column – 15th March 2022

Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine has been a wake-up call to European countries that haven’t been paying attention to their military.

Germany said that it will buy 35 F-35 fighter jets and 15 Eurofighters to replace its old fleet of Tornado jets with new ones. A lot of money has been spent on the country’s military in the last few months, but this is the first big deal the country has made since that.

Why is that so important? Because Germany is ashamed of what it did in World War II, it has been taking money away from its military for years. That has led to a lack of preparedness that is both shocking and sometimes funny:

More than 20% of Germany’s main weapons aren’t ready to fight, and only 40% of its helicopters are ready to go, Bloomberg reports.

Tanks in 2014 had to use broomsticks instead of machine guns when they were taking part in a military exercise.

A friend who always has to pay at dinner felt like that person in the US, because they didn’t pay for everything. Ex-President Trump kept criticising NATO allies, and Germany in particular, for not meeting their promise to spend 2% of GDP on defence.

Putin changed everything.

Germany, which spends about 1.5% of GDP on its military, said last month that it plans to spend more than 2% of GDP on defence. Some other European country is following in their footsteps as well.

As soon as possible, Sweden, which is not a member of NATO, said it would raise military spending to 2% of GDP because of the worsening security situation in the area.

Denmark wants to spend 2% of GDP on defence by 2033. She said: “Historic times call for historic decisions,” Danish PM Mette Frederiksen said.

What about the United States? The war in Ukraine has also changed the way people think on Capitol Hill. Democrats who used to oppose more money for the Pentagon now say that the game has changed. Adam Smith, for example, is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. What happened in Ukraine “fundamentally shifted” what the United States’ national security and defence postures need to be now.

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