Russia Has Forced Germany to Find Its Fighting Spirit

Russia Has Forced Germany to Find Its Fighting Spirit

Germany’s decision to send 500 Stinger missile systems to Ukraine is emblematic of the rapid shift in German defense policy.

Germany appears to have hit a massive turning point in its strategic posture toward Russia. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Belin quickly authorized new defense spending and fast-tracked arms to Ukrainian resistance fighters. In an appearance before the German Parliament, German chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the creation of a one-time, 100 billion euro fund for the German military.

A powerful essay from Jeff Rathke, President of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University, details recent events in Germany, which he says constitute a “revolution” in German foreign policy.

“Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his government have carried out a revolution in Germany’s foreign policy, discarding in a matter of days the outmoded assumptions of Berlin’s post-Cold War dreams and setting a course for confrontation with Russia that will bring dramatically increased resources and modernize the country’s armed forces,” Rathke writes. Rathke also notes that Scholz “highlighted Germany’s contributions to NATO and expanded commitments, including its deterrent presence in Lithuania and making German air defense systems available to Eastern European member states.”

There is clearly a sense of urgency in Germany's pivot toward Ukraine and NATO, as the German Defense Ministry recently announced that it is providing 1,000 anti-tank systems and 500 Stinger anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine. This development is quite significant, given that Stinger anti-aircraft weapons might offer Ukraine the ability to destroy attacking Russian helicopters, drones, and fixed-wing platforms.

As Russia is reported to operate 544 attack helicopters, the ability to counter helicopters could prove critical to Ukrainian resistance fighters. Famous for their role in destroying Russian helicopters during Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan decades ago, Stingers can fire from vehicles or operate as shoulder-mounted weapons for dismounted units. They can lock on to enemy helicopters with precision targeting and completely destroy aircraft using heat-seeking infrared guidance systems.

Stinger missiles could prove essential in any kind of urban defense of the capital city of Kyiv, as individual fighters could hide on rooftops to target Russian helicopters and drones from hidden positions. Furthermore, Ukrainian resistance fighters could use buildings, city structures, or mountainous terrain to stage attacks on Russian aircraft from more protected positions.

The shift in German policy is also likely to move Germany much closer to the United States and make Berlin much more intensely invested in NATO. Rathke's essay even reported that Germany is now likely to acquire F-35 fighters.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters.