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Scholz nominates Pistorius as Germany’s next defence minister

Scholz nominates Pistorius as Germany’s next defence minister

2 min. 17.01.2023
State interior minister named to succeed Christine Lambrecht - Scholz ally known as pragmatic veteran who gets things done
Boris Pistorius
Boris Pistorius
Photo credit: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa

Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to propose that Boris Pistorius be Germany’s new defense minister, filling a critical role in his cabinet after Christine Lambrecht resigned on Monday following a series of missteps.

Scholz is expected to nominate Pistorius later on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the discussions, who asked not to be identified before an official announcement. 

The 62-year-old is a veteran Social Democrat who has served as the interior minister for the state of Lower Saxony since 2013. While Pistorius has never held a position in the federal government, he is seen as a pragmatic, hands-on policymaker who gets things done. He served in the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, in 1980-81 as part of his compulsory military service.

Pistorius, who will be the first man in the office in a decade, takes on the defense portfolio at a crucial time. Germany is grappling with upheavals in its global defense and security policies, triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine and forthcoming decisions about arming the government in Kyiv. 

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is due in Berlin on Thursday, and will host a meeting of senior defense officials from allied nations the following day at the US airbase in Ramstein. Before the gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the German government is expected to make a decision on tank deliveries.

Scholz’s administration is facing mounting pressure to supply Ukraine with Leopard battle tanks after Poland and Finland announced that they wanted to send their own German-made combat vehicles. The UK has also pledged to supply Challenger 2 tanks.

Germany — one of the top suppliers of military aid to Kyiv — is expected to drop its resistance and ship the Leopards amid concerns that the fighting in Ukraine could intensify in the spring, according to officials familiar with the government’s thinking.

Lambrecht, who served as defense minister for just over a year, came under close media scrutiny over her perceived lack of military expertise, with criticism intensifying after she released a seemingly tone-deaf New Year’s Eve video that critics interpreted as making light of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Public broadcaster ARD and Spiegel magazine previously reported the decision to nominate Pistorius, and the government confirmed the news Tuesday morning, stating that he will be sworn in on Thursday. In an interview with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum, economic minister Robert Habeck described Pistorius as “the right representative for the Germany army.”

(Updates with government and Habeck statements)

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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