German Government Presents 1st National Security Strategy to Address Growing Threats

BERLIN (AP) -- The German government said Russia is the greatest security threat "for the foreseeable future" and advocated a balanced approach to China as it unveiled its first comprehensive national security strategy on Wednesday.

The strategy was part of an effort to address what Germany viewed as growing military, economic and social risks to the country.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the new strategy, which his three-party governing coalition pledged to draw up when it took office at the end of 2021, has gained added importance since Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has heightened anxiety in Germany about the preparedness of its own armed forces, prompting Scholz to announce a "turning point" on military spending. It has also raised questions about how Germany responds to hybrid threats from disinformation, cyberattacks and economic pressure from major powers such as China.

"Three things are important," Scholz told reporters at a news conference in Berlin, alongside four of his top ministers. "First, the strength of our democratic institutions. Second, the strength of our economy. And third, the cohesion of our society."

A 76-page document outlining the strategy includes several references to security threats posed by climate change. These include heightened risk of famine, disease and conflict around the globe, as well as extreme weather events and damage to critical infrastructure in Germany.

The document set out Berlin's general approach, but did not go deep into policy details -- including foreign policy. Officials plan to draw up more specific strategies at a later stage.

"Today's Russia is, for the foreseeable future, the greatest threat to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area," it said. "We are living in an age of growing multipolarity" in which some countries are "trying to reshape the existing international order according to their view of systematic rivalry."

The document also said that it viewed China as "a partner, competitor and systemic rival," noting that Berlin saw that "elements of rivalry and competition have increased in recent years; at the same time China remains a partner without which many of the most pressing global challenges can't be solved."

The German government is drawing up a specific strategy on China. Asked when it would be presented, Scholz replied: "We'll be ready when we're ready, but soon."

The government said it will also produce a strategy to increase Germany's ability to counter hybrid threats, which would entail strengthening the analytical capacities of its intelligence services.

However, the idea of creating a national security council, akin to those in the United States and Britain, was shelved.

The government also resisted calls for Germany's military spending to go above the NATO-wide goal of 2% of gross domestic product.