During a visit to German troops in Lithuania on Sunday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said NATO will discuss Russia's proposals for the alliance's military affairs on its eastern border, but it will not permit Moscow to "dictate" its security affairs.
Her remarks come after Moscow provided a list of military demands to the US and its allies on Friday.
These demands included withdrawing NATO's enhanced forward presence battalions from the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which had previously been occupied by Russia in Soviet times, as well as Poland, where Moscow had asserted leverage when Warsaw was a communist satellite state.
Additionally, Moscow seeks a legal guarantee that NATO will abandon military endeavors in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, basically giving Russia a de facto veto over Ukraine's membership in NATO. At present, NATO has already put Ukraine's membership on ice while providing security assistance and military advisers.
What did Defense Minister Lambrecht say?
"We have to talk to each other, which means discussing the proposals that Russia has put forward," said Lambrecht in Rukla, Lithuania, on her first visit as defense minister. "But it cannot be that Russia dictates to NATO partners how they position themselves."
"We need to solve the current tensions on the diplomatic level but just as well by putting up a credible deterrence," she said.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said NATO must resist Moscow's effort to once again divide Europe into spheres of influence.
"We need to support Ukraine with all means, which includes the delivery of lethal weapons," he said, speaking alongside Lambrecht, without providing specifics.
Western nations have threatened Russia with severe economic sanctions should Moscow further escalate the conflict in Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly said it fears Kyiv's tightening bond with NATO and Western nations.
ar/wd (AFP, Reuters)