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‘We need to do more’: German defence minister urges NATO action to counter Putin

Germany’s defence minister has called on NATO to do more to protect the alliance from Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Christine Lambrecht made the statement on Saturday while inaugurating the headquarters of a newly established NATO frontline brigade in Lithuania. 

“One thing is certain: the current situation means we need to do more together,” she said, adding “we cannot know how far Putin’s delusions of grandeur can go”. 

Lambrecht continued: “The brutal Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is getting more brutal and unscrupulous… Russia’s threat of nuclear weapons shows that Russian authorities have no scruples.”

Putin has raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons twice in recent weeks amid a retreat of Russian forces in the south and east of Ukraine. 

Germany first deployed troops to Lithuania, which borders the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, in 2017. 

In June 2022, Berlin agreed to ramp up its presence in the country, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

The new HQ will act as a staging post for quickly deploying a brigade of 5,000 troops to a potential combat frontline if necessary. 

Lambrecht added that frequent military exercises could make this process move faster.

Arvydas Anusauskas, Minister of National Defence of Lithuania, said that the ten days currently needed to move a brigade is “very fast.”

He added: “Let us recall that in the case of Ukraine, the information about the concentration of the Russian forces on its border was known for almost 90 days.”

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Baltic nations Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have called on NATO to increase its presence in the region. 

The former Soviet states fear Russia could potential menace their own security or sovereignty and that of the alliance. 

Other NATO member states have expressed worries that a beefed-up presence on Russia’s fringes could escalate tensions, while a permanent NATO presence would cost the alliance billions to maintain.

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