New German defense minister Boris Pistorius will be 'calm' presence, promises Scholz
Trent Murray in Berlin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has appointed a new defense minister, just 24 hours after the former office holder resigned following a string of scandals.

62-year old Boris Pistorius is taking charge of the defense force, known as the Bundeswehr in German, after accepting the role.

Pistorius has served as the state Interior Minister in Germany's Lower Saxony since 2013. He has been a member of the Social Democrats since the 1970s, the same party as Scholz. His appointment represents a major promotion to a Federal Cabinet role.

Boris Pistorius, far right, pictured in Munich last month. /Andreas Gebert/File/Reuters
Boris Pistorius, far right, pictured in Munich last month. /Andreas Gebert/File/Reuters

Boris Pistorius, far right, pictured in Munich last month. /Andreas Gebert/File/Reuters

Speaking after the announcement, Scholz lauded Pistorius's experience on security policy.

"He is not just a friend and a good politician but he is also someone who has huge experience in security policy issues and someone who has previously cooperated very closely with the Bundeswehr in his previous function. He is also someone who has the necessary power and calm for such a large task in light of the current times," said Scholz.

In accepting the role, Pistorius acknowledged that challenges lie ahead.


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"The troops can be sure that I will stand in front of them whenever necessary. I want to make the Bundeswehr strong for the time that lies ahead," he told reporters.


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His appointment follows the resignation of former minister Christine Lambrecht, who was criticised for several high profile blunders, including taking her adult son for a ride on an army helicopter, and a New Year's Eve video message that spoke of 2022 being a year for meeting "interesting and great people."

Critics called her message tone deaf, given the atrocities in Ukraine.

Pistorius will find a heavy in-tray upon taking office. On Thursday (January 19), U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is due in Berlin for a one-on-one meeting to discuss Ukraine. On Friday, western allies will meet at the U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany to discuss plans to provide Kyiv with more arms, including the possibility of main battle tanks.

Until now, Germany has been cautious about approving the despatch of heavy Leopard tanks, due to worries that such a move could be seen as an escalation of the war. Other countries with such tanks also need Berlin's approval before they can be passed on to another country.

Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, whose Green party has been more hawkish in German defense policy, said additional self-defense weapons for Ukraine will likely be needed in coming weeks.

"There are important decisions to be made in the short term, in particular the urgent question of how we continue to support Ukraine in its right to self-defense," he said in a statement.

"Germany bears a responsibility here and has major tasks to accomplish," Habeck added.

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