Germany responds to Russian NATO proposals
NATO should engage in dialogue with Russia but the US-led military bloc ought not stand for Moscow telling its members what to do, Germany’s new defense minister declared on Sunday, during a visit to Lithuania.
Christine Lambrecht made the statement during a press conference with her Lithuanian counterpart, Arvydas Anusauskas, in the town of Rukla. The minister said that while it was “important and right” to discuss the proposals put forward by Russia, NATO wouldn't allow Moscow to tell its member states how to “position themselves.”
The German defense minister’s recipe for de-escalating tensions boiled down to “diplomacy” paired with “credible deterrence” in response to what the West believes is Moscow’s desire to invade Ukraine. The official, who was sworn in last week, said it was no coincidence that her first foreign visit in her new capacity was to Lithuania. She assured Anusauskas, that Berlin “understands the concerns of its Baltic allies who are feeling threatened.”
Following talks that were dominated not only by the ongoing escalation over Ukraine but also by the migrant crisis on the Belarusian border, Lambrecht concluded that “NATO is ready to stand up for the security of its member states, in a determined and united way.”
Anusauskas said Russia should not be allowed to “draw red lines” and talk about “spheres of influence in Europe.” He added that Vilnius was prepared to start shipping weapons to Ukraine.
Ahead of her trip to Lithuania, where she visited German soldiers stationed in the country as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup, Lambrecht called on Western nations to “put Putin and his inner circle in the crosshairs.”
She proposed personal sanctions against Russia’s leadership if Moscow invades Ukraine, "for example, that they can no longer travel to the Champs Élysées in Paris to shop." Lambrecht seemed to be unaware that the same sort of luxury stores also exist in the Russian capital – in places like Kutuzovsky Avenue, Barvikha Luxury Village, TSUM and Tretyakovsky Proyezd – and other cities, such as Saint Petersburg and Sochi.
Russia has vehemently denied that it has plans to attack its neighbor. It says all military maneuvers that the Western media and governments construe as preparations for an invasion are being conducted on Russian territory and, hence, Moscow does not have to account for them.
President Vladimir Putin has also accused NATO of being deaf to Russia’s concerns over the bloc’s expansion eastward, with weapons systems and military contingents inching ever closer to the country’s border.
This week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov lamented a lack of progress in talks with the West and announced that Moscow had put forth a number of proposals aimed at thrashing out security guarantees in Europe. Russia also warned that if its calls remained unheeded, it would have to take countermeasures.