11:25 GMT19 January 2021
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    The former German defense minister's comments come as Europe moves toward a greater military and political independence from the United States.

    Germany's former defense minister, Volker Rühe, criticized the current state of Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, calling it "weaker than ever before." Rühe called for a massive increase of troops and armament, saying that other nations should rely on Germany, according to a report by Junge Freiheit.

    READ MORE: Germany’s Purchasing of F-35 Jets Would’ve Been 'Affront' to France – AfD MP

    While the UK and France spend an estimated one third of their defense budget on the nuclear sector, Germany must "put the strongest conventional forces for the European defense — but we do not do that," Rühe told Deutschlandfunk radio.

    According to the 1990 Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany — also known as "Two plus Four" — signed by the two Germanies, as well as the Soviet Union, France, the UK and the US, Berlin is permitted to have up to 370,000 troops.

    Currently the nation has some 170,000 active-duty troops, according to reports.

    "The European contribution [to defense] must rise," he said.

    READ MORE: German Bundeswehr Mulls Opening Its Ranks to Foreign Nationals – Reports

    It is important that other European countries be able to rely on Germany, Rühe added.

    "One must explain to Germans how important it is to have common security policy, with an appropriate German contribution," the former Minister said, cited by Deutschlandfunk.

    Rühe reiterated his long-standing position that Germany must not tolerate nuclear missiles deployed on its soil — something that German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen did not rule out during a recent NATO meeting in Brussels.

    "We have a very different historical situation than back in the 80s, which must never come back," Rühe said.

    The former defense minister's remarks come shortly after the EU rolled out its first joint military-industrial cooperation program.

    In late 2018, French and German leaders presented views on the future of the EU, with a focus on greater independence, as a response to US President Donald Trump's repeatedly-stated reluctance to pay the lion's share of NATO military contribution.


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