War in Ukraine sparks German rethink on defense, security

Image: Martin Meissner/AP Photo/picture alliance

From an initial pledge of 5,000 helmets for Ukrainian troops at the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Germany is now delivering cutting-edge military technology — and will likely keep doing so in the new year.

The experts agree: Armed conflict elsewhere will continue to shape life in Germany in the coming year. Questions of war and peace will influence more and more political decisions because, ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the possibility that Russia could attack NATO territory has grown more likely.

Take road construction — just one example among many, as political scientist Christian Mölling told DW. Roads and bridges in Germany, he said, would have to be upgraded because many current roadways and bridges are not designed to support the weight of tanks and other heavy military equipment.

Mölling, director of the Center for Security and Defense at the German Council on Foreign Relations, recently presented a report that rang alarm bells among Berlin’s political elite. The report demonstrated that, in the worst case, NATO countries only have five years to rearm, or else the alliance would no longer have the military power to deter a potential Russian aggression.

Germany entering a new era

Germany is rapidly entering a new era. For three decades following the fall of the Iron Curtain, Germans trusted that the end of the Cold War had also banished the threat of a major armed conflict. Those days are over, now that Ukraine is experiencing war on its own soil.

Political considerations that Germany forgot after the fall of the Berlin Wall are now back on the agenda. “A comprehensive defense policy demands especially that civilian infrastructure and society itself be made resilient enough to withstand a war,” said Mölling. That could lend military significance to the municipal planning of a new road bridge, especially if the bridge in question would play a strategic role in a war situation.

Mölling sees an opportunity in the looming effort. He argues that, to restore its overall defense, Germany must “suspend certain regulations for a period of time. In the paper we characterized it as: More investment, less regulation.”


Courtesy of DW