The Daily Telegraph

German soldiers seeking exemption from combat triples

- By Jorg Luyken

THE number of German soldiers baulking at armed combat has tripled in less than a year as Berlin struggles to replenish its ranks.

Close to 700 soldiers in the German armed forces have made an applicatio­n to exempt themselves from fighting.

The numbers, which only go up to last month, mark a threefold increase on the whole of 2021. According to German media outlet RND, which first reported on the numbers, many cited the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the reason for their decision, with some doubting war would break out.

German soldiers are allowed to apply for an exemption from fighting on the grounds of conscienti­ous objection, although it is not guaranteed that they will get it.

Germany is struggling to find recruits for an army that Olaf Scholz, the chancellor, pledged last week to turn into a “cornerston­e” of European defence.

Although the Ministry of Defence has initiated a recruitmen­t drive in the hope of increasing the size of the armed forces from 180,000 servicemen and women up to 200,000, it said yesterday that the number of applicants had dropped this year.

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