BERLIN ( Associated Press) – Criticized German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced her resignation Monday amid a major project to modernize the German military and plans to expand arms deliveries to Ukraine.
In a statement, Lambrecht said he had submitted his resignation to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, saying that “the media’s emphasis on me for months” had prevented a fact-based debate on the military and German security policy.
“The valuable work of the soldiers and the many people in my department should be a priority,” he said.
At first, a possible successor was not announced.
Lambrecht, 57, was defense chief since Scholz became chancellor in December 2021. Critics had long argued that the job was too big for him, although Scholz supported him, last month describing him as “a defense minister first class”. The pressure against him recently mounted after an unpopular New Year message.
His resignation comes at a sensitive time, with Scholz under increasing pressure to substantially increase German military aid to Ukraine and to agree to deliver 2 Leopard main battle tanks. ,
Germany has given Ukraine considerable support in recent months, including howitzers, Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and the first of four IRIS-T surface-to-air missile systems. However, some critics of the German governing coalition have long complained about what is perceived as Scholz’s reluctance to increase attendance. On that issue, Lambrecht retreated to the chancellor, who made most of the important announcements.
Before being appointed justice minister in 2019, Lambrecht was Scholz’s number two when he was finance minister. She was also minister for families and women in the last months of the government of then-Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Although his work was respected in those departments, his role in the Ministry of Defense was seen as one of the weaker pieces of the Scholz government.
The particularly cumbersome portfolio has tarnished the reputation of other ministers in the past.
Its importance increased with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This prompted Scholz to announce a special fund of 100 billion euros ($108 billion) to upgrade the German military, the Bundeswehr, which has been beleaguered for years and especially suffers from age and worn equipment. .
Lambrecht last month dismissed the idea that the government has been too slow to approve investments. They moved quickly, officials said, but “these projects have to be carefully negotiated, it’s taxpayers’ money.”
The minister has also been criticized for ill-conceived messages, with his announcement in January 2022 that Germany would deliver 5,000 military helmets to Ukraine “a very clear signal that we stand by her side.”
In April, he took his 21-year-old son on a military helicopter flight after he shared a photo on Instagram, taken by the minister himself, something that went public. Her ministry said she had sought permission and paid for the trip, but was criticized for making poor decisions.
An unprofessional video message shared on New Year’s Day from his personal Instagram account sparked fresh calls for him to step down and tested the patience of his political allies.
The video featured Lambrecht on a Berlin street with a loud display of New Year’s fireworks in the background, and she was barely audible.
“There is a war going on in the middle of Europe,” he said. “And related to that, there were a lot of special effects for me that I was able to get, a lot of meetings with cool, interesting people.”