German budget committee clears over 6 billion euros of defence purchases, say sources

FILE PHOTO: German Defence Minister Pistorius and German President Steinmeier visit Ukrainians undergoing Leopard tank training in Klietz

By Maria Martinez

BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany's budget committee approved the purchase of tanks, ammunition and air defence systems worth more than 6 billion euros ($6.48 billion) on Wednesday, sources told Reuters.

Days after Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz surprised allies by announcing a "Zeitenwende" – German for a historic turning point - with a 100-billion-euro special fund to bring the military back up to speed.

The arms purchases authorised on Wednesday include 105 Leopard 2 A8 tanks from arms maker KNDS for 2.93 billion euros, the sources said.

There is also a deal to buy up to 200,000 shells of artillery ammunition for up to 1.3 billion euros from Diehl and Nammo.

Furthermore, four PATRIOT air defence systems will be bought for a total of 1.35 billion euros, according to sources.

"Today, the budget committee once again made important procurement decisions that make the "Zeitenwende" proclaimed by the Chancellor a reality," members of the committee from the three parties in the ruling coalition said in a joint statement.

The statement did not give details of the purchases or their value but said they would help Germany's military plan for the next decade and provide Ukraine with urgently needed supplies.

After the meeting with the budget committee, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said that in the first half of the year projects with a total value of almost 27 billion have been approved.


"These are long-term, important and urgently needed investments in our troops and thus in our security," Pistorius said.

Some Leopard tanks will equip a German combat brigade in Lithuania being set up as part of NATO's deterrence against Russia, while others will reinforce the 300-tank force inside Germany, according to a budget draft seen by Reuters.

The German military expects to take delivery of the most advanced version of the tanks between 2027 and 2030.

Opposition members criticised the approval of the purchases given some of the funding has yet to be been clarified.

"The government must finally do its homework and ensure that these important projects are fully financed with the 2025 budget and the new mid-term finance plan until 2028," said Christian Haase, budget policy spokesperson of the conservative parliamentary group.

Budget infighting within Germany's governing coalition is jeopardising its plan to meet defence commitments to Western allies even as tensions with Russia rise.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner is rejecting calls by Pistorius to increase annual defence spending next year by 6.7 billion euros.

"As things stand today, all we know is that the finance ministry does not want to spend an additional euro and savings must be made in the existing budget. But Pistorius doesn't say where," said Ingo Gaedechens, a member of the budget committee from the conservatives.

Pistorius said the government would use commitment appropriations, which are pledges to pay, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled.

"Now we are not announcing what we can afford on the basis of the budget, we are announcing what we need for the country's defence capabilities and then seeing what we can get through," Pistorius said.

($1 = 0.9256 euros)

(Reporting by Maria Martinez and Sabine Siebold; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Christina Fincher)