Germany’s Zeitenwende in foreign and security policy: Domestic developments and alliance dynamics after one year

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Europe  Security policy  Development policy
Written by

Minna Ålander

Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs


Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a Zeitenwende, a historical turning point to which Germany would respond by reforming its foreign and security policies. In a speech in the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) on 27 February 2022, Chancellor Scholz listed five points for the reform agenda: supporting Ukraine (also militarily), sanctioning Russia, increased German contribution to NATO’s eastern flank, investment in more capable armed forces, and decoupling from Russian energy. The third point included a €100 billion special investment fund, so-called Sondervermögen, that would be used to boost Germany’s military capabilities and especially alleviate the most urgent material shortcomings of the armed
forces. Given that Germany had been considered a laggard in European defence due to its restrictive approach on military capability – partly because of the historical legacy of guilt for World War II and partly a condition of Germany’s reunification after the Cold War – the announcement of a turning point raised expectations in Euro-Atlantic defence circles.