Scandal in the making: the brigade promised by Boris Pistorius to Lithuania in 2027 would not be financed

At the end of 2022, in the dynamic instilled by the announcement of a massive increase in defense credits and the creation of an investment envelope of €100 billion for the Bundeswehr, Berlin raised the possibility of deploy, in Lithuania, a German brigade of 5000 men, permanently.

For Olaf Scholz and the SPD/Grünne/FDP coalition having won the 2021 legislative elections, it was a question of repositioning Berlin at the center of the European defense chessboard, after Russia launched its war of aggression against Ukraine, in February 2022.

Boris Pistorius, the German Minister of Defense, appointed in January 2023, quickly took up this issue, which has an important political dimension, both domestic and European. In December 2023, he signed, with his Lithuanian counterpart, Arvydas Anusauskas, the agreement for the deployment of this brigade, and its 5000 men, in Lithuania, to be operational from 2027. However, it seems that the German authorities had neglected certain parameters, before committing to Vilnius.

The creation of the German brigade in Lithuania alone will cost €10 billion

If the subject hardly interested public opinion or the German political class, until now, it has become, in recent days, the subject of an intense controversy, which could even turn into a time bomb, for the coalition in power.

Boris Pistorius and Arvydas Anusauskas
Boris Pistorius and Arvydas Anusauskas sign the agreement in Vilnius for the permanent deployment of German troops in the country, December 18, 2023. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

Indeed, on the occasion of the meeting of the defense commission, a representative of the German Ministry of Defense indicated that the efforts to create, equip and deploy, initially, this brigade of 5000 men in Lithuania, would cost around of €10 billion to German public finances.

However, these costs were not provisioned either in military programming for the next 4 years, by 2027, nor in thee Zeitenwende, the envelope of €100 billion intended to compensate for the immediate inadequacies of the Bundeswehr. In addition, the defense budget, like this exceptional envelope, does not have any room for maneuver to meet such investments.

The German Defense Ministry does not know how to finance the brigade promised to Lithuania

Worse still, the forecast German federal budget also does not offer the means to release the 10 billion euros required to respect the commitment made by Berlin. There remains, therefore, only the solution of debt, oh so hated by Berlin, to solve the problem.

This is especially true because if it is necessary to invest €10 billion for the creation and deployment of this brigade, it will also be essential to finance the recurring costs generated by this force. However, each German soldier deployed should receive, on average, €3115 net each month of pay, to which will be added €1594 in deployment bonus, as well as tax and spouse assistance.

German soldiers deployed in Lithuania will receive an average of €4710 net monthly, part of which is tax exempt.

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