Boris Pistorius appointed Germany's new defense minister

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, said Boris Pistorius was the right person due to 'his competence, his ability to deliver and his big heart'. (Photo: Getty Images)

Germany nominated the relatively unknown Boris Pistorius as its new defence minister on Tuesday, as calls to increase military aid to Ukraine intensified.

Lower Saxony's interior minister, Mr Pistorius, was the unexpected choice to replace Christine Lambrecht, who resigned Monday after bowing to solid pressure.

On Friday, he may meet his new NATO partners at a crucial defence summit in Germany, where all eyes will be on his decision to export combat tanks to Ukraine.

After years of underfunding and equipment issues, the German military must also be modernized, with €100 billion ($108.2 billion) available for new hardware.

Admirers of Mr Pistorius, 59, referred to him as a respected operator familiar with the uniformed forces from his experience supervising law enforcement in Lower Saxony, a state with numerous military facilities.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, stated that Pistorius was the ideal candidate due to his competence, ability to deliver, and big heart. "Pistorius is an extremely experienced politician who has been tested in government, has dealt with security policy for years, and is the ideal candidate due to his competence, his ability to deliver, and his big heart,"

Mr Pistorius, a trained attorney, served a year of military duty when it was required in West Germany, but he has never held national political office.

Last year, he convinced Ms Lambrecht to station a new territorial reserve in Lower Saxony.

Christos Pantazis, an MP, described Mr Pistorius as a "political pro" who "addresses crises efficiently and purposefully... he is the ideal candidate for this challenging position."

Similarly to the Chancellor, he is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and participated in the coalition negotiations that brought Mr Scholz to power in 2021. Mr Scholz was born in Osnabrueck, where he formerly served as mayor.

The government of Mr Scholz has been accused of moving too slowly to equip Ukraine and criticized for withholding the long-requested Leopard tanks.

Mr Pistorius will oversee the supply of Marder combat vehicles while evaluating whether to send Leopards after it was reported that the United Kingdom would offer Challenger battle tanks to Ukraine.

Pundits will also be interested in whether Mr Pistorius can avoid the public relations blunders that contributed to Ms Lambrecht's downfall, such as her misjudged New Year's Eve statement.

In times of peace, the defence minister is the commander-in-chief of Germany's armed forces.

On Friday, Ukraine's allies will convene at the US airfield in Ramstein, Germany, to discuss their newest support.

The choice of Mr Pistorius to replace Ms Lambrecht, without a more significant restructuring, will violate Mr Scholz's pledge to maintain a gender-balanced cabinet.

"It is regrettable that the chancellor and the SPD have abandoned their self-proclaimed objective of gender equality. There were several qualified female candidates," said Nyke Slawik, a Green Party representative.

Among the women considered for the position were Ms Lambrecht's deputy Siemtje Moeller and the German parliament's armed forces commissioner Eva Hoegl.

Publish : 2023-01-17 16:57:00

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