German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Sunday said Russia cannot “dictate” to NATO on regional security, as tensions soar between Moscow and Western capitals over the conflict in Ukraine.
She spoke during a visit to Lithuania, which along with its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Latvia is worried about security after Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops near its border with fellow ex-Soviet Ukraine.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
“We have to resolve the tense situation we are in now both diplomatically and with credible deterrence,” Lambrecht told reporters.
“We have to talk with each other, which means discussing the proposals that Russia has put forward. That is right and important,” she added at Lithuania’s Rukla military base.
“But it cannot be that Russia dictates to NATO partners how they position themselves.”
The trip is Lambrecht’s first since being named defense minister, after new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats formed a coalition government with the Greens and the liberal FDP earlier this month.
Lambrecht met with her Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas, who said that “Russia has mobilized forces in the Kaliningrad region that are ten times larger than the battalion deployed in Rukla.”
“In this situation, Russia’s demands that weaken the security of our countries are simply impossible to implement. I think they need to be rejected,” he told reporters.
Around 550 German troops are stationed at Lithuania’s Rukla military base as Germany leads the multinational battalion in the country.
Similar military units were sent to other Baltic states and Poland in 2017 to deter Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea and helped separatists take over parts of eastern Ukraine three years earlier.
After amassing some 100,000 troops near Ukraine, Russia on Friday unveiled proposals to contain the role of the United States and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, calling for urgent negotiations with Washington.
The proposals called for the US-led NATO alliance not to admit new members or establish bases in ex-Soviet countries.
The West has threatened Russia with harsh sanctions should its soldiers enter Ukraine.
Ahead of her visit, Lambrecht called for harsher sanctions against Russia over its troop deployment.
Those responsible for any aggression had to face “personal consequences”, she told German weekly Bild am Sonntag, adding that Germany and its allies should put Russian President Vladimir Putin and his entourage “in our sights.”
“We have to exhaust all the diplomatic and economic sanction possibilities. And all further steps should be agreed with our allies,” she said.
In the wake of Ukraine discussions by EU leaders in Brussels last week, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the current regional security situation is “probably... the most dangerous it’s been in 30 years.”
Russia tells NATO to leave Eastern Europe, UkraineRussia said on Friday it wanted a legally binding guarantee that the NATO military alliance would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and ... World News
Ukraine’s foreign minister urges NATO for ‘deterrence package’ against RussiaUkraine urged NATO on Wednesday to prepare economic sanctions on Russia to deter a possible invasion by tens of thousands of Russian troops ... World News
NATO chief warns Russia of ‘costs’ if it attempts to invade UkraineNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia Friday that any attempt to invade Ukraine would have costs, as concern mounts about a Russian ... World News
NATO chief: Alliance watching Russian troops near UkraineNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that the alliance is closely monitoring an unusual concentration of Russian forces on the border ... World News
Ukraine talks to join NATO worries Russia: KremlinThe Kremlin said on Thursday that Moscow was worried by talk of a road map for Ukraine to join NATO and described the “problem” of the military bloc ... World News
Russia accuses US, NATO of turning Ukraine into ‘powder keg’: News AgenciesMoscow on Tuesday accused the United States and other NATO countries of turning Ukraine into a “powder keg,” after the West sounded the alarm over ... World News
Ukraine urges NATO to send ‘real signal’ to RussiaUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday urged NATO to speed up his country’s membership plan, saying a signal needed to be sent to Russia as ... World News
Russia says military moves near Ukraine purely defensive, as NATO rebukes MoscowRussia warned on Thursday that a serious escalation in the conflict in Donbass could “destroy” Ukraine as NATO voiced concern over what it said was a ... World News
Russia accuses NATO of stirring up tensions over Ukraine: ReportRussia’s foreign ministry accused NATO on Friday of fueling tensions over Ukraine and said the alliance’s military support for the country ... World News
Top NATO general warns of Russian reaction to arming UkraineU.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said that any action the U.S. or other Western nations take "could trigger a more strident reaction from Russia." World News
Russia denies NATO accusations over troops in UkraineThe West has imposed sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, saying Moscow supported the rebels World News
NATO chief sees 'high probability' of Russian intervention in east UkraineNATO chief says he sees a 'high probability' that Russia could intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine World News