German defense minister resigns after weeks of criticism

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BERLIN — Germany’s defense minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned after a year of heavy criticism over repeated public blunders, her response to the war in Ukraine and her government’s slow rollout of a military buildup.

Ms. Lambrecht is the most senior member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government to step down, and her departure will likely be seen as a blow to his reputation. The chancellor had repeatedly defended the record of Mrs Lambrecht, former justice minister and fellow member of his party, the Social Democrats.

Since taking office last year when Mr Scholz’s government took office, Ms Lambrecht has been dogged by criticism. She had no previous experience in the military and opposition leaders accused her of having no interest in running the Defense Ministry. According to Bild, Germany’s best-selling newspaper, Mr. Lambrecht in an interview with the newspaper was unable to name the different ranks of the German army.

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Mrs. Lambrecht received public contempt at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As Germany debated sending arms to Kiev in the early days of the invasion, Mrs. Lambrecht was met with scorn for heralding a delivery of 5,000 helmets. She was the face of the government’s repeated dragging about sending arms, though it is likely that the Chancellery’s reluctance stemmed more from its own position.

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Criticism flared up last summer when it became known that Mrs Lambrecht had used a government helicopter to take her son on holiday.

More recently, opposition parties in Germany have argued that Ms Lambrecht is responsible for the slow roll-out of a €100bn defense fund, part of a government plan to dramatically bolster its military in response to the war in Ukraine. Germany’s limited storage of base ammunition means it only has supplies for hours or days of fighting.

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The final straw appears to have been an awkward video released on New Year’s Eve on Ms Lambrecht’s personal Instagram account. In it, Ms. Lambrecht discussed the war in Ukraine and offered seasonal greetings against a gritty backdrop of fireworks in Berlin. Critics called it distasteful, and even her own ministry distanced itself from the video, saying it was a personal statement.

The post German Defense Minister Resigns After Weeks of Criticism appeared first on New York Times.