New German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht called today for tougher sanctions against Russia, which has sent tens of thousands of soldiers near its border with Ukraine. Christine Lambrecht made the call moments before her trip to Lithuania where she will visit military units based in that country, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Lambrecht told German weekly Bild am Sonntag that those responsible for any attack must bear “personal consequences”. “We must exhaust all possibilities to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions,” said the Social Democrat, who this month appointed Germany’s new ruling coalition defense minister. “Every additional step must be taken in agreement with our allies,” he stressed.
The Lithuanian Defense Ministry said that Lambrecht will meet with his counterpart Arvidas Anosuskas to discuss the security situation as well as bilateral relations.
About 550 German soldiers are stationed at the Rukla military base in Lithuania, and Germany leads the multinational forces on the ground. Similar military units were sent to other Baltic states and Poland in 2017 to deter Russians from potential aggression after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea three years earlier, which also helped separatists take over parts of eastern Ukraine.
After massing about 100,000 troops near Ukraine, Russia last week presented proposals to limit the role of the United States and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and called for emergency talks with Washington.
Moscow demands that NATO not welcome new members and not establish bases in the former Soviet republics. The West threatened Russia with severe sanctions if its soldiers entered Ukraine. NATO and the European Union summit on Thursday warned Moscow of “serious consequences” in the event of military intervention, after rejecting Russia’s willingness to veto Kiev’s possible entry into the alliance. The European summit extended economic sanctions against Russia for six months after the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
No details were given about the expected new sanctions. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nosida estimated that the regional security situation was “probably (…) the most dangerous in thirty years”.
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