West News Wire: According to reports in the SZ and Bild newspapers on Friday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has made the decision to step down and will do so next week. The two media publications assert, citing sources close to the lawmaker, that the minister has already discussed the plan with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Bild claims that Lambrecht made the choice on her own initiative. So far, neither the government nor the defense minister have made any official statements regarding the alleged move.
The reports come in the wake of a significant controversy that led journalists and politicians from the opposition to demand Lambrecht’s immediate departure. Her regrettable New Year’s Eve speech, in which she claimed that the struggle between Moscow and Kiev had given her many “unique impressions” and enabled her to meet many “interesting and outstanding people,” was the cause of the outcry.
The leaders of the biggest opposition bloc the Union then accused Scholz of making Lambrecht the defense minister to further weaken the German Armed Forces, which have been struggling with personnel shortages and equipment malfunctions for years.
Lambrecht’s tenure as defense minister also saw another scandal involving military equipment. In December, the nation said it would halt the procurement of modern domestically-produced Puma infantry fighting vehicles due to numerous malfunctions. Lambrecht described the development as a “major setback.”
The minister also took a rather reserved stance on sending military aid to Kiev, repeatedly warning that it is depleting the stocks of the German Armed Forces, and opposed supplying Ukraine with heavier weapons such as Leopard 2 tanks, saying that Berlin will never do so on its own.
Scholz defended Lambrecht, describing her as a “first-class defense minister” in December.