German defence minister backs NATO double strategy on Russia

NATO needs to maintain its double strategy in dealings with Russia "consistently, calmly and soberly," German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Friday ahead of the military alliance's Warsaw summit.

"What is important is that NATO positions itself so strongly that it is clear that no one can see any advantage in attacking this military alliance," Von der Leyen told German national public television broadcaster ZDF.

NATO's double strategy is aimed at offering security to its eastern members while signalling to Russia that it has nothing to fear from the alliance.

Dialogue with Moscow had to be pursued from a position of strength, Von der Leyen said, as the two-day summit of the 28 NATO members got underway.

The summit, being held under the shadow of Russia's occupation of Crimea last year, is to decide on fresh deployments to Eastern European members feeling threatened by Moscow.

These plans foresee multinational battle units being stationed in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The German government's commissioner for Russian affairs, Gernot Erler, described the deployment of NATO troops as "symbolic" in comments to national public radio Deutschlandfunk. They would not counter a genuine threat from Russia, he said.

Erler said he anticipated further Russian deployments along its borders with NATO states, and he called for a "halt signal" along with an end to rearmament on both sides.

Last update: Fri, 08/07/2016 - 12:10

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