Following a weekend of rumors about her future, Germany’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD) Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht officially announced her resignation on Monday.
Lambrecht had come under a lot of criticism for a New Year’s Day Instagram video she had shot from the streets of Berlin, in which she attempted to relive her recollections of the war in Ukraine but was nearly overpowered by the sounds of fireworks going off all around her.
Opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) members criticized the message as being tone-deaf and urged her to quit. Lambrecht said in a statement on Monday that the months-long media attention on his personal life “barely permits for objective reporting and discussion about the servicemen and women, the Bundeswehr, and security policy decisions in the interest of the population of Germany.”
Scholz: A Replacement Will Be Named Soon
Lambrecht’s supporter to the very end, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, recently referred to her as “first-class” in December. Although it was too early to discuss it on Monday, Scholz claimed to have a “clear notion” of his intentions to succeed Lambrecht and that he would make them known as soon as possible.
He commended Lambrecht for her efforts in bringing about improvements at one of Germany’s notoriously challenging ministries. In order to manage the significant restart required for national security and Ukraine, he stated, “she worked with enormous engagement to get away from the routes trodden for decades.”
A Challenging Year In Defense
Lambrecht’s tenure began inauspiciously, even before the war in Ukraine. Military experts were skeptical of her experience, and her first year in government became a series of minor controversies. Lambrecht also took a lot of heat over the German government’s unwillingness to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine.
It didn’t help that she had taken her adult son on an official tour to a military unit in northern Germany aboard a German Armed Forces helicopter, only to go on holiday with him in Sylt. Perhaps more severe than family problems was an apparent loss of trust in the armed forces, with revelations in German media in recent weeks.
According to one insider, the Defense Ministry has slipped into a “deep slumber” under Lambrecht’s leadership. “What eventually forced her resignation is the practically full loss of power in the Defense Ministry,” Rafael Loss, a defense analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said (ECFR). “I believe that implied that even if she had remained a minister, it would have been a lost cause.”
Scholz will be hoping that his new position will help to stabilize the ministry. The SPD leader Lars Klingbeil, long-time Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, and Eva Högl, the special parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr military, are among the candidates floated in the German media. To retain the balance in Cabinet agreed upon during coalition negotiations, a replacement is almost sure to come from Scholz’s SPD. Scholz has also stated that he will preserve gender parity in his Cabinet.
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Big Job For The New Person
The next minister must get started right away, whoever they may be. The first order of business will be the preparation for a “Ukraine contact group” of NATO military ministers on Friday at the US Air Force station in Ramstein, western Germany.
Loss at ECFR believes Scholz might use the conference to reevaluate Germany’s approach to the globally criticized Ukraine. According to him, Scholz now has the chance to alter perceptions of Germany’s support for Ukraine due to his resignation. “If he had any desire to demonstrate more leadership before the meeting at the Ramstein air base, then I believe this resignation allows him to paint a picture of how everything will change.”
Regardless of who it is, the German defense minister will ultimately have little influence over the major choices made on the weapons deployed to Ukraine but will have a lot of issues to deal with. According to the existing deployment, “NATO has already placed a substantial strain on the Bundeswehr,” stated Loss.
“It will be difficult for the Bundeswehr to meet the operational demands that will dramatically expand over the next few years. The next defense minister will have to handle everything while maintaining the support of the military, as Christine Lambrecht ostensibly accomplished.”
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