Ukraine crisis became a catalyst for revisiting of foreign and defense policies pursued by the countries of the European Union. Germany has assumed the most active position and commenced developing a new security strategy – ”Bundeswehr’s White Paper”. New military doctrine envisages lifting restrictions imposed upon the country in the wake of Fascism’s defeat after the WW II. Countering ”Russia’s aggression” would be the priority direction of this new military doctrine.
Germany’s new security policy aims to defend ”internationally established regulation rules and norms” from the Russian efforts of establishing ”dominance” with determination of the ”zones of influence” and certainly, it is about Ukraine again. Ukraine crisis has become a foundation that Berlin’s current policy is being built upon.
The U.S. added fuel to the fire on May 6, stating that it was ready to repel potential offensives against any NATO member, without seeking permission from the alliance itself. U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute made the announcement, citing provisions of the Washington Treaty. In the meantime, some sixty thousand U.S. troops are stationed in Europe who stand ready to provide assistance to Germany or any other nation.
It is worth remembering the thundering declarations by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other officials that today, Germany needs to assume ”greater responsibility” in Europe and around the world. The extent of responsibility evokes heated debate both in Germany and beyond. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is convinced that ”partners expect a more active and even more robust German foreign policy in the future”.
Last November, in Sydney, Angela Merkel voiced her concerns that ”After the horrors of two world wars and the end of the Cold War, this (Russia’s behavior) calls the entire European peaceful order into question”. The Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen echoed the statement by saying that ”Russia’s actions in Ukraine fundamentally change the security architecture in Europe”. Minister believes that Germany must not have illusions and find an adequate response to the Kremlin’s policy. The fact that Germany will seek conflict resolution, rule of law and sustainable development in Europe is beyond doubt but the big question is what the means are.
Conference dedicated to the development of the new military doctrine was held on February 17 in Berlin. However, it will only be completed by the next year. That being said, the strategy has already been labeled ”aggressive” and ”without taboo”. According to the experts, Germany opts for globally oriented militarist foreign policy.
For the moment, there are four known working groups engaged with the security and defense policy, armed forces, as well as issues of partnership, alliances and national action frameworks. Politicians, journalists, scientists and military experts of German and American centers are involved with these groups. The list includes the likes of Editor-in-Chief of Internationale Politik Sylke Tempel, Director for Policy Planning of the German Foreign Ministry Thomas Bagger and Commander of Armed Forces Territorial Command in Berlin Major General Hans-Werner Wiermann.
According to the country’s leadership, the previous, 2006 edition of the German security strategy is hopelessly obsolete. Germany had identified Russia as a “priority partner” within the framework of EU and NATO. German strategy was based on several premises, such as Russia’s membership in the United Nations Security Council and G8, and its active involvement with the field of nuclear energy.
Moreover, Russia, being the member of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, bears particular responsibility not least related to the situation in the regions of South Caucasus and Central Asia. Furthermore, from Germany’s standpoint, for many European nations, Russia remains a key energy supplier and economic partner. According to the German security strategists, without Russia factor, security, stability, integration and prosperity in Europe could not have been guaranteed.
Therefore, Germany has keen interest towards Russia for the sake of reinvigorating of political, economic and social cooperation on the eastern outskirts of the EU. Guided by these realities, Germany facilitated political, economic and cultural engagement between Russia and the EU and supported its close collaboration with the North Atlantic Alliance.
In the 1997, the Founding Act between Russia and NATO was adopted. Russia-NATO Council was established in 2002. Russia’s involvement alongside NATO in the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo from 1999 to 2003 was, according to the German strategists, the example of successful cooperation.
In complete analogy with the chronological sequence of Russian cooperation with the NATO, Ukraine signed the cooperation charter with the former in 1997. However, judging by the results, Ukraine-NATO cooperation was developing in a different direction than the one with Russia. German security strategists had acknowledged that. Ukraine-NATO partnership became an important contribution to the political transformation of NATO’s special partnership with Ukraine. The status of this partnership was officially recognized as “special”. Key directions of this cooperation were stipulated in the Ukraine-NATO action plan in 2002. As of 2005, members of the military alliance and Ukraine commenced an active dialogue regarding former’s accession to NATO. Since then, Ukraine has started to contribute to the NATO-led operations.
Thus, it can stated that different directions of cooperation between NATO and Russia and Ukraine were identified within the security strategy of Germany. While, NATO’s engagement with Russia was more of a “deterrence through embrace”, Ukraine’s rapprochement with NATO shortly incorporated the talks on Ukraine’s membership prospects. At present, NATO declares that no one can contest Ukraine’s potential NATO membership. Meanwhile, Germany supports the NATO’s open door policy.
When it comes to NATO’s common policy, the authors of the German strategy see no particular line to be followed by Germany. They assume that it is the trans-Atlantic partnership that remains a pillar of common security of Germany and Europe. Therefore, authors of the “Bundeswehr’s White Paper 2006” presume that the North Atlantic Alliance would remain a cornerstone of future security and defense policy of Europe.
This is how Germany’s security policy is incorporated into the common security policy of the European Union. The country’s security here is inextricably connected with Europe’s political development. Today, Germany is a part of more coherent Europe that overcame post-war imposed fragmentation. United Germany plays a key role, shaping the future of Europe. Being the EU and NATO member – Germany has proven itself as a reliable partner. This is the conclusion by the authors of Germany’s security strategy and so far, there has not been no significant departures from the official document on the part of Berlin.
Bundeswehr is an instrument of Germany’s comprehensive and active security and defense policy. According to the strategic concept of 2006, German armed forces are divided into three categories: rapid reaction, stabilization and support forces. Each of the components must be trained, armed and equipped based on these three functions. The rapid reaction force must be 35 thousand strong, stabilization troops – 70 thousand and support troops must stand at 147 thousand.
Thus, based on the 2006 strategy, the Bundeswehr’s total number of troops should be 252.5 thousand. According to the strategic planning, the joint contingents made of these forces are capable of conducting low or medium intensity military operations throughout long period and within a single operation.
The 2006 strategy implied buildup of Bundeswehr’s capacity in such a way that rapid deployment forces would commit 15 thousand troops, with 5 thousand remaining on high alert. To European Forces, Bundeswehr would dedicate 18 thousand troops (roughly one third of the total number), for UN peacekeeping missions – 1 thousand and another 1 thousand for different rescue and evacuation missions.
Thus, within the framework of its current security strategy Germany is capable of deploying a full-fledged army on the battlefield and maintain at least two more in the capacity of occupying forces. The authors of the 2006 paper have not considered the involvement of Bundeswehr in the all-out war with the usage of weapons of mass destruction and creation of a massive stockpile. Threat of an all-out war can be a deterrent for modern geopolitical ambitions of Germany and the EU.