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Teenagers in Germany could be conscripted over Russia war fears



The German military says it desperately needs at least another 21,000 soldiers (Picture: Getty)

German school leavers may soon be forced into a year of military service to bolster troop numbers in response to Russian aggression.

Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, is pushing to reintroduce conscription for 18-year-olds, which was scrapped in 2011.

The country’s military is currently under pressure to fill a 21,000 shortfall of soldiers it says it needs to keep up with Nato defence plans.

Officials are in the final stages of discussions on three options, according to leaked plans obtained by German newspaper Die Welt.

German defence minister Boris Pistorius is ‘convinced’ military service should make a comeback (Picture: EPA)

One involves a compulsory year of military service for young men and women once they turn 18.

The second would require all 18-year-old boys to fill out forms and undergo testing, with enough suitable candidates enlisted to plug the recruitment gap. Women would be able to choose whether they’re contacted.

The third would not involve compulsory service – instead, school leavers are all sent the form and given the option of filling it out.

Putin recently sacked his defence minister and blustered about being prepared for ‘global war’ (Picture: AFP)

Officials reportedly described the last option as ‘the least promising’ in their plans, and no major political players are pushing for it.

By contrast, Mr Pistorius recently said he was ‘convinced that Germany needs some form of conscription’ in his keynote speech during a recent visit to the US.

He previously said it was a ‘mistake’ to suspend military service – which saw 18-year-old boys enlisted for a year.

His stance is also notably supported by the main opposition party, CDU, which oversaw the scrapping of military service under long-standing former chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany had mandatory military service for young men until 2011 (Picture: AFP)

Alarm bells were sent ringing across Europe last week after Vladimir Putin said his nuclear forces have been placed on full stand-by for a potential global war.

He accused the ‘collective West’ of ‘fuelling regional conflicts, inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife’.

The spokeswoman for Germany’s defence ministry said last week: ‘With the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the military invasion of Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to use force to change borders in Europe.’

What is needed ‘more than ever is a Bundeswehr [armed forces] that is capable of acting and reacting’ which above all requires ‘anchoring the Bundeswehr in society’, she added.

British commanders say the threat from Russia is ‘urgent’ (Picture: Getty)

The head of the German government, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has insisted the country ‘will not return to a conscript army with 400,000 soldiers’, though he hasn’t ruled out smaller-scale compulsory service.

German media reports suggest the federal government doesn’t currently have a funding plan in place to make conscription work.

Mr Pistorius also risked divisions within his own government by using his US visit to call for Germany to loosen its strict national debt rules for the scheme.

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