Volker Rühe (born September 25, 1942) is a German politician affiliated to the CDU. He served as German Defence minister from April 1, 1992, succeeding Gerhard Stoltenberg during the first government of a reunified Germany in the fourth cabinet of Chancellor Kohl, to the end of the fifth Kohl Cabinet on October 27, 1998. During his time at the Defence Ministry Rühe played a central role in placing NATO enlargement on the German political agenda. He unsuccessfully ran for the office of minister-president of the German state Schleswig-Holstein in the year 2000.
From 1976 to 2005 he was a member of the German Bundestag. Volker Rühe is currently resigned from active participation in electoral politics. He was recently quoted by Neue Presse expressing sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin and arguing for an intensive dialogue between the German government and "the Kremlin" on the subject of the American proposed "missile defense system". "We are talking as if Iran already had nuclear weapons... we can't continue with deterrence, like during the Cold War."