FifthDefense Minister Christine Lambrecht visited the German contingent of the Enhanced NATO Presence (eFP) in Lithuania. About 500 soldiers of the German armed forces are stationed northwest of the capital, Vilnius, along with Lithuanian and other NATO forces. Lambrecht took off on an Air Force plane early Sunday morning and returned to Berlin in the afternoon.
“My first mission trip takes me to Lithuania on purpose,” she said, according to the agency in Rukla. Germany stands “strongly with our partners and friends”. Excellent cooperation will continue. In an interview with the newspaper “Bild am Sonntag”, Lambrecht said in light of the current tensions: “It is very clear: the aggressor is Russia. We must exhaust all possibilities for de-escalation.”
The minister spoke of using the “kit of tools we have”. In an unusually sharp tone, Lambrecht added that the current issue was “the targeting of Putin and his environment”, and those responsible for the aggression should feel the personal consequences, “for example, they can no longer shop on the Champs-Elysees in Paris”. When asked if she is ready to send soldiers from the German army to Ukraine, Lambrecht answered the newspaper: “We must exhaust all options for diplomacy and economic sanctions. All other steps must be closely coordinated in the alliance.”
‘He can understand the concern of allies’
At a joint press conference with Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas in Lithuania, Lambrecht said: “I can understand the concerns of our Baltic allies and understand when you feel threatened.” Solve it diplomatically. But at the same time, a credible deterrent is needed. A very important sign. Through its eFP, Germany is making an important contribution to deterrence in the Alliance.”
Personnel of the 414th German-Dutch Tank Battalion are currently stationed in Rukla with Lithuanian and other NATO forces. They strengthened the eastern flank after the Russian invasion of Crimea and attacks on eastern Ukraine. In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, a rotary battle group of about 1,000 soldiers has since been stationed. Germany has been the leading country in Lithuania since 2017. In Estonia are British forces, in Latvia are NATO country Canada and in Poland are American forces.
Russia made clear over the weekend that it was not ready to withdraw its forces from the border with Ukraine. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency that the consistent Western demands regarding “any measures in our region” “naturally resent us” and are “unacceptable and inappropriate.”
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