Europe Politics

Boris Pistorius to become Germany's next defense minister

Key Points
  • The interior minister of the state of Lower Saxony, Boris Pistorius, will become Germany's next defense minister, the government said Tuesday.
  • Christine Lambrecht resigned as defense minister on Monday as allies increase calls to send Ukraine heavy tanks.
Social Democrat (SPD) interior minister of the state of Lower Saxony Boris Pistorius is to serve as Germany's next defence minister, two sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Florian Gaertner / Contributor / Getty Images

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will appoint Boris Pistorius, the long-serving interior minister of Lower Saxony, to replace Christine Lambrecht as minister of defense, the government confirmed Tuesday morning.

The Social Democrat Pistorius, 62, will receive his mandate on Thursday.

The appointment comes within a day of predecessor Lambrecht's resignation, tendered amid intense media scrutiny and escalating pressure over Germany's response to the war in Ukraine.

"The focus from the media over months on my person hardly allows for objective reporting and discussion about the soldiers, the armed forces and the course for security policy in the interest of Germany's citizens," Lambrecht said on Monday.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner congratulated Pistorius via Twitter.

Opposition lawmaker Serap Guler of the Christian Democratic Union, who has previously heavily criticized Lambrecht's tenure, bade the defense minister-designate good luck in enforcing "security policy interests with relation to the Chancellery" on Twitter. She noted the appointment "always ends up being someone whose name was not previously in the conversation."

Pistorius will hit the ground running in his new position, with chief ally U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin set to visit Berlin this week, a German defense ministry spokesperson told Reuters. The partners earlier this month issued joint statements committing to bolster their military support to Ukraine through a $3 billion aid package. Berlin pledged to supply up to 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles and a Patriot defense missile system to Kyiv, while Washington vowed to contribute with 50 Bradley fighting vehicles.

Some critics have expressed skepticism over Scholz's perceived hesitancy to ramp up armed aid to Ukraine, casting a shadow over Lambrecht's credibility to lead the effort. She came under fire for offering to provide 5,000 helmets to Ukraine last year, at a time when the Kyiv administration was requesting heavy weaponry. She was more recently lambasted for posting a controversial New Year's minute-long video on social media, in which she discussed the Ukraine war and appeared to reflect on personal encounters against a backdrop of fireworks.

— CNBC's Sophie Kiderlin contributed to this report.