20 Mar 2017

Britain and Germany sign deal to oppose Russian aggression

Great Britain and Germany will sign a bilateral defense deal, after Theresa May launches Brexit. By signing this deal, British prime minister, Theresa May, will seek to reassure European Union, that the United Kingdom won’t turn its back on Europe, concerning matters of defense.

British defense ministry officials said to the Financial Times that “the defense ministry works with Germany in a joint vision statement on future co-operation. Independent of the effects of the effects of Brexit, Great Britain stays a strong ally and partner in NATO and, also, bilaterally.” German defense ministry officials have confirmed the information.

The Defense secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, has spoken to several EU countries, trying to emphasise on the importance of maintaining older defense ties and building up new links. Theresa May wants to show that the UK is committed to NATO and European security, for which commitment many are afraid that it will be weakened after Brexit.

The deal between Germany and the UK will include cooperation on training, cyber security and maritime patrols. It is known that in the following months, a brand new British Agusta Wildcat helicopter will be deployed from a German frigate in the Mediterranean Sea. News of the deal are emerging, as an 800-man contingent of British troops is scheduled to arrive in the Baltic country of Estonia, as part of NATO forces stationed there. This contingent is the strongest that has deployed in Eastern Europe, since the end of the Cold War. In his announcement, the UK defense secretary said that “in the face of an increasingly assertive Russia, NATO is stepping up its commitment to collective defense.”

Berlin wants to enforce its defense ties with the UK to counterbalance the Russian aggression in the eastern borders of the EU. The annexation of Crimea by Russia and the ongoing war in East Ukraine, between Ukrainians and Russian separatists, has made Germany feel uneasy. In addition, the new government in Poland, which seems to have an anti-EU stance in various issues, has forced Germany to seek ways to enforce its defense capabilities.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, met with US president Donald Trump in the White House for the first time on Friday. In the meeting, which was probably one of the most uncomfortable of her career, Merkel promised to lift the German defense budget from 1.2% of GDP to 2% of GDP, to meet the NATO requirements. An increase on that level will make the German budget equivalent to that of Russia, amounting to €65bn.

Donald Trump has pushed for all NATO countries to meet their obligations. President Trump wasn’t satisfied with the Chancellor’s pledges and used, as always, his Twitter account to say that “vast amounts of money to NATO and the US must be paid more for the powerful and very expensive defense it provides to Germany. Germany owes…”. The German defense minister, Ursula Von der Leyen rejected Trump’s claims saying that “there is not debt account at NATO.”