The new Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius, does not believe that the 100 billion euro special fund set up last year will cover the Bundeswehr’s financial needs. “The 100 billion euros will not be enough,” said the SPD politician of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (weekend edition). “We also have new maintenance costs with every new system. So with every new device there are new and higher running costs.” When asked whether the regular budget of around 50 billion euros a year could then remain, Pistorius replied: “I don’t assume that that will be enough.”

The so-called special fund in the amount of 100 billion euros to better equip the Bundeswehr was launched by the federal government after the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Pistorius recently announced talks with the armaments industry in order to close gaps in the Bundeswehr as quickly as possible as a result of arms deliveries to Ukraine. With a view to the recently announced release of 14 Leopard 2 tanks, Pistorius told the “SZ”: “Of course we’re on our way to get replacements.” However, tanks are not “on the shelf to go”.

The minister described the suspension of conscription by the black-yellow federal government in 2011 as a mistake. “If you ask me as a civilian, as a citizen, as a politician, I would say it was a mistake to suspend conscription.” He doesn’t mean that because of today’s situation. “Our parliamentary army belongs in the middle of society. In the past, conscripts sat at every second kitchen table. That’s another reason why there was always a connection to civil society.” But that’s not easy to get back. Now you have to make the Bundeswehr so ​​attractive that good young people are interested in it and apply.

When asked if that was enough, Pistorius said: “If you ask me, born in 1960, what I think of fulfilling a duty, also for the state, then I would always say yes!” But he has a problem with imposing a duty on younger generations. “That’s why I’m reluctant. But you should openly discuss it with those who are affected, because we are currently seeing an alienation between parts of society and the state,” he added, referring to attacks on firefighters and police officers.

The defense minister refuses to supply German warplanes to Ukraine. “I think that’s out of the question,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Combat aircraft are much more complex systems than main battle tanks and have a completely different range and firepower. We would venture into dimensions that I would currently warn against.”

After Germany and other western countries agreed to supply battle tanks to Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for combat aircraft, among other things. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also ruled out the delivery of fighter jets.

At the same time, Pistorius warned that Ukrainian air defenses should be further strengthened. Among other things, German-made Gepard anti-aircraft tanks are in use in the country – but they have problems with the replenishment of ammunition. Germany wanted to give Swiss-made ammunition for the tank to Ukraine; but this was forbidden by the government in Bern. Brazil and Qatar are considered other potential suppliers of cheetah ammunition.

Pistorius took office a week ago after his predecessor Christine Lambrecht (also SPD) resigned.