Scholz says Ukraine support of 'existential importance' - despite debt woes

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Scholz says Ukraine support of 'existential importance' - despite debt woes
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks next to a Leopard 2 battle tank of the German armed forces as he visited troops during a training exercise in northern Germany in October 2022. Photo: Ronny Hartmann / AFP

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that military and financial support for Ukraine was of "existential importance" to Europe, defending defence spending commitments as Berlin confronts a domestic budget crisis.


Germany has been one of the Ukraine's biggest backers along with the United States, Scholz said, supplying Kyiv with weapons to battle Russia's invading forces.

"We will continue with this support as long as it is necessary," Scholz said in a speech to parliament. "This support is of existential importance. For Ukraine... but also for us in Europe," he continued. "None of us want to imagine what even more serious consequences it would have for us if Putin won this war."

The chancellor was addressing MPs following a shock constitutional court ruling earlier this month, which blew a massive hole in the government's spending plans. Germany's top court said the government had flouted a constitutional debt rule, which limits new borrowing to 0.35 percent of gross domestic product. The ruling has left the government scrambling to pass a new budget before the end of the year and shore up sorely needed investments in decarbonisation and the modernisation of its armed forces. The government also recently pledged to double its support for Ukraine next year - and will now need to address this promise in its new budget.

READ ALSO: Scholz defends spending as budget crisis rocks Germany


To quell the immediate crisis, the government plans to suspend the constitutional debt rule for a fourth year in a row.

The so-called debt brake was already lifted between 2020 and 2022 to tackle the crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the spike in energy prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year.

"Under no circumstances should we let up in our support for Ukraine and in overcoming the energy crisis," Scholz said. "That would not be responsible, that would endanger our future."

One recent poll finds that over two-thirds of Germans support maintaining weapons deliveries to Ukraine. In addition, over half of German respondents say they support arming Ukraine enough to retake territory from the Russians, rather than simply halt the Russian advance - a strategy one report in the Bild tabloid says Scholz is pursuing with the US secretly - in order to force Ukraine to negotiate.

The vast majority of Germans polled also say they consider Russia a threat and favour spending at least two percent of German GDP on defence.

READ ALSO: Germany unveils new Ukraine package before key talks


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