German defense minister: Transatlantic partnership with U.S. more vital now than ever  

May 14, 2024

With geopolitical tensions rising around the globe, Germany reaffirms commitment to transatlantic security and international order

Key Takeaways 

Just three years after the end of World War II, U.S. and British forces organized the Berlin airlift, delivering critical supplies of food and medicine and bringing hope to Germans at a time of despair. Decades later, those efforts remain a strong symbol of the transatlantic partnership between the U.S. and Germany, which is more vital than ever as geopolitical tensions rise, German Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius said at a recent event hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the university’s American-German Institute.  

“All of us in free Europe are grateful for the security umbrella that the United States has offered over the past 75 years,” he said. 

“Together, we are showing the world and all the revisionist powers that we stand together whenever our values and legitimate interests are threatened,” he added, speaking about countries that wish to upend world order. 

As autocratic leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin seek to undermine the post-World War II order, the U.S. and Germany, in partnership with other NATO allies, must lead in upholding the principles of democracy, Pistorius said.  

“Russia’s war in Ukraine is Europe’s most decisive challenge today. It is the most immediate and most urgent threat to the international order. Russia is, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, the greatest threat to our security,” he said. “Those who oppose democracy and freedom are looking very carefully at what is happening in Ukraine. And those who support democracy must support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.” 

That’s why Germany now has the largest defense budget in continental Europe, reaching the NATO spending target of 2% of its GDP this year as it invests in its military capabilities. It is also the second largest national supporter of Ukraine, with $30 billion in current and future military assistance and $25 billion in other commitments, including the upcoming Ukraine Recovery Conference that will be held in June in Berlin. Only the U.S., where lawmakers recently passed a bill authorizing $61 billion in Ukraine aid, has spent more. 

Pistorius highlighted that the United States bears significant responsibilities in other parts of the world, including in the Indo-Pacific, and as a result, Germany will work to strengthen the European contributions to burden sharing within NATO. The country will likewise “reshape its engagement in other parts of the world” such as the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.  “The response to all of these challenges can only be a common one,” Pistorius said. “None of us can succeed alone. We must work together to uphold the principles of international order.” 

As NATO prepares to mark its 75th anniversary with a summit this summer in Washington, D.C., Germany and the United States are natural partners at a turning point in history, Pistorius said. He underscored Germany’s commitment to seizing the opportunity to shape a brighter future with the U.S. and all those who stand up for freedom. 

“The security of our allies is our security,” he said, “your freedom is our freedom, and we stand ready to jointly defend it.”