Germany eyes buying missile defence system, Chancellor Scholz says

German and Israeli national flags are pictured  at Berlin's Tegel airport
German and Israeli national flags are pictured at Berlin's Tegel airport, Germany, January 25, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN, March 27 (Reuters) - Germany is considering purchasing a missile defence system to shield against a potential attack from Russia, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said late on Sunday.

"This is certainly one of the issues we are discussing, and for good reason," he told public broadcaster ARD when asked whether Germany might buy a defence system such as Israel's Iron Dome.

He did not specify what type of system Berlin was considering.

When asked whether Germany aimed to procure a missile defence system with a longer range than its existing Patriot batteries, Scholz said: "We need to be aware that we have a neighbour who is prepared to use violence to enforce their interests."

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported earlier a missile defence shield for the whole territory of Germany was one of the topics discussed when Scholz met with Eberhard Zorn, Germany's chief of defence.

Specifically, they spoke about a possible acquisition of the Israeli "Arrow 3" system, the paper said.

The defence ministry declined to comment on the report. Israel's defence ministry had no immediate comment.

Andreas Schwarz, a member of parliament for Scholz' Social Democrats who is a budget spokesperson, told the newspaper such a system made sense.

"We must protect ourselves better against the threat from Russia. For this, we need a Germany-wide missile defence shield quickly," he told the newspaper, adding: "The Israeli Arrow 3 system is a good solution."

In a landmark speech days after Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Scholz announced that Germany would sharply increase its defence spending to more than 2% of its economic output and inject 100 billion euros ($110 billion) into defence.

Moscow says the goals for what Putin calls a "special military operation" include demilitarising and "denazifying" its neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the head of parliament's defence committee, said Germany should consider various options for missile defence, including against high-flying ballistic missiles which enter space for part of their flight.

"Israel produces such a system and it makes sense to not only look into different scenarios but also to potentially buy it as soon as possible," she told Welt television.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Emma Thomasson in Berlin and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Cynthia Osterman

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