The NATO military alliance must "do more" to protect itself from Russia, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Saturday.
Lambrecht made the comments during a visit to Lithuania, where she met with German troops deployed there as part of a NATO mission as well as with her Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas.
What did Lambrecht say?
"One thing is certain: the current situation means we need to do more together," Lambrecht said.
Lambrecht stressed that no one can "know how far Putin's delusions of grandeur can go."
"The brutal Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is getting more and more brutal and unscrupulous. ... Russia's threat of nuclear weapons shows that Russian authorities have no scruples," she said.
President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have on multiple occasions alluded to Moscow's nuclear capabilities when addressing the West on its role in supporting Ukraine. The United States has said that it sees no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons.
Germany's defense minister also reiterated Berlin's commitment to strengthening NATO's eastern flank.
"We've heard Russia's threats to Lithuania, which was implementing European sanctions on the border with Kaliningrad. There are not the first threats, and we must take them seriously and be prepared," she said. "We stand by our allies."
NATO's presence in Lithuania
Germany deployed its first troops to Lithuania in 2017. Berlin agreed to ramp up its mission in Lithuania following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
On Friday, Lambrecht inaugurated a permanent German command center in Lithuania. She said the center would help move a NATO brigade, made up of 3,500-5,000 troops, to Lithuania in 10 days if needed.
There are currently about 1,600 NATO soldiers stationed in Lithuania.
"The security of Lithuania is the security of Germany. It is this promise of common security that we are recommitting ourselves to today," Lambrecht said at a ceremony at Lithuania's Rukla military base.
sdi/sms (Reuters, dpa)