Germany to deploy 350 soldiers to Lithuania to try to reassure its allies – POLITICO

BERLIN — Germany is sending up to 350 more troops to Lithuania in a bid to show NATO allies that Berlin is a reliable partner despite criticism that it has been too timid in its dealings with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis.

“We informed parliament a few minutes ago that we are going to reinforce the battle group in Lithuania,” Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said during a visit to a tank training brigade in Munster, south from Hamburg, Monday afternoon.

“The reinforcement will include up to 350 soldiers who will be able to move within a few days,” Lambrecht said, adding that she had “intensive discussions” on this subject with her Lithuanian counterpart as well as with Chancellor Olaf Scholz. .

Scholz, who was in Washington on Monday for talks with US President Joe Biden, has come under fire from US politicians and officials from other NATO countries who have complained about Germany’s lack of decisive action to show support for Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin amassed troops, weapons and equipment on the country’s border.

“We are strengthening our contribution to NATO’s eastern flank and sending a very clear signal of unity to our allies,” Lambrecht said in an apparent effort to dispel doubts about Germany’s commitment. “We can be counted on and we show it with this reinforcement of the battle group,” she added.

Meanwhile, during a trip to Kiev on Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock insisted that Berlin stood with Ukraine despite its persistent refusal to supply the country with weapons.

Speaking at a press conference alongside his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Baerbock said “the ball is in Moscow’s court and it is up to them to remedy this situation”, adding that Germany “stands to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine without any ifs or buts”. .”

Baerbock then stressed that Berlin was also determined to impose economic sanctions in the event of Russian aggression, even if they would be particularly painful for the German economy.

“Yes, we ourselves are ready to pay a high economic price for this, because it is a matter of Ukraine’s security,” she said.

In recent days, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a friend of Putin with close economic ties to the Kremlin, has sparked outrage in Germany and beyond by accusing Ukraine of ‘shaking the saber’ just days before his appointment as a member of the board of directors of the Russian gas company Gazprom.

Asked about the issue, Ukrainian Kuleba said the ex-Chancellor’s remarks did not deserve much attention. “Commenting on Mr. Schröder is like commenting on Vladimir Putin’s spokesman,” he said.


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