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

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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.