The heavily criticized German defense minister announced her retirement on Monday. Her office oversees the enormous military modernization program and the growing arms exports to Ukraine.
In a written statement, Christine Lambrecht said she had submitted her resignation request to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
She added that “months of media concentration on my person” had prevented an objective discussion of the military and Germany’s security strategy.
“Many employees in my department and the soldiers’ great job must stand in the foreground,” she remarked.
According to a Scholz official, the chancellor accepted Lambrecht’s resignation.
According to Christiane Hoffmann, who spoke to the media in Berlin,
“The chancellor respects the decision by Ms. Lambrecht and praises her for her fine work in these difficult and demanding times.”
A replacement would be revealed “soon,” the speaker promised.
Hoffmann said Scholz valued having gender parity among ministers but refrained from commenting on the likelihood of a more considerable Cabinet upheaval.
Since Scholz was appointed chancellor in December 2021, the 57-year-old Lambrecht has served as defense minister.
Critics have long characterized her as being unprepared.
Pressure on her increased recently following an ill-timed New Year’s video greeting, but Scholz remained by her, referring to her last month as “a first-class defense minister.”
The timing of Lambrecht’s retirement is delicate since Scholz is under pressure to agree to send Leopard 2 battle tanks, representing a substantial advancement in German military assistance to Ukraine.
Germany sent 40 Marder armored personnel vehicles and a Patriot air defense missile battery to Kiev earlier this month.
Including howitzers, Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft weapons, and the first of four IRIS-T surface-to-air missile systems,
Germany has recently provided Ukraine with a significant amount of support.
But Scholz’s perceived reluctance to increase help has long been criticized by detractors, including some of Germany’s ruling coalition.
The chancellor, who delivered most of the big announcements, eclipsed Lambrecht on the subject.
Before being named justice minister in 2019, Lambrecht served as Scholz’s assistant when he was finance minister.
In the final months of the government led by then-Chancellor Angela Merkel, she also served as minister for families and women.
Despite being well-liked in those positions, the Scholz administration saw her as one of the Defense Ministry’s weakest links.
The infamously cumbersome department has a history of damaging ministers’ reputations.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its significance grew.
Scholz created a unique 100 billion euro ($108 billion) fund to modernize the German Bundeswehr, which had been neglected for years and had particularly outdated, ineffective equipment.
Last month, Lambrecht rejected claims that the government’s spending spree had gotten off to a poor start.
Although she claimed that the government had responded quickly, she added, “such initiatives must be thoroughly discussed – this is tax money.”
Along with poor communication, the minister came under fire for declaring in January 2022 that Germany would provide Ukraine with 5,000 military helmets as “a very clear indication that we stand by your support.”
She accompanied her 21-year-old son on a military helicopter flight in April, which was made public when he shared a picture on Instagram that the minister, it turned out, had taken herself.
However, detractors claimed it displayed bad judgment.
Her ministry claimed she had requested authorization and paid the charges herself.
New opposition demands for Lambrecht’s ouster were sparked by an incompetent New Year’s video message on her personal Instagram account, which also tried the patience of political friends.
It featured a speech by Lambrecht that was hardly audible above loud New Year’s Eve fireworks in a Berlin street.
In the center of Europe, a war is waging, she declared.
Additionally, I was able to meet many fascinating, wonderful people, which gave me a lot of unique impressions.