BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will appoint a regional official as the new defense minister following the resignation of the much-criticized Christine Lambrecht, the dpa news agency reported Tuesday.
The defense minister-designate, Boris Pistorius, is a member of Scholz’ Social Democrats, and has been serving as interior minister of Lower Saxony since 2013.
The 62-year-old Pistorius will have to steer the project of modernizing Germany's military and oversee expanding weapons deliveries to Ukraine amid Russia's war.
Pistorius will also quickly be thrown into the deep end of the new job. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to visit Berlin this week and then host a meeting of allies at the Ramstein Air Base in western Germany. On Sunday, the German and French governments will hold bilateral talks that include a meeting of the countries’ joint security council.
Pistorius completed his military service from 1980 to 1981, then studied law in the western German towns of Osnabrueck and Muenster.
Before being appointed interior minister of Lower Saxony, he served as mayor of Osnabrueck from 2006 to 2013, dpa reported.
Lambrecht had been defense minister since Scholz became chancellor in December 2021. Critics had long portrayed her as out of her depth.
The German government has been facing mounting pressure to make another significant step forward in German military aid to Ukraine by agreeing to deliver Leopard 2 battle tanks. Earlier this month, Germany agreed to provide 40 Marder armored personnel carriers and a Patriot air defense missile battery to Kyiv.
Germany has given Ukraine substantial support in recent months, including howitzers, Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and the first of four IRIS-T surface-to-air missile systems. But critics, some inside Germany’s governing coalition, have long complained of Scholz’s perceived hesitancy to step up aid.