German minister criticizes ‘sabre-rattling’ NATO drills in Poland
PR dla Zagranicy
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has criticized recent "sabre-rattling and warmongering" NATO exercises in Poland, saying that more dialogue is needed with Russia.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: Flickr.com/SPD in Niedersachsen
"What we shouldn't do now is add fuel to the fire through sabre-rattling and warmongering,” Steinmeier, of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
He added: "Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance's eastern border will bring security is wrong.”
Some Polish officials have claimed that key German government decisions and pronouncements have been shaped by a desire to mollify Russia.
Steinmeier was a close aide of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is now chair of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, a Russian-European consortium that built and operates the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, bypassing Poland and the Baltic states.
The latter countries say the pipeline, along with the planned Nord Stream 2 project to double the amount of gas shipped directly from Russia to Germany, is a threat to their energy security.
A string of EU countries have voiced fears that the Nord Stream 2 project will increase dependency on Gazprom, the Russian state gas giant.
NATO on Friday concluded major military exercises in Poland, with 31,000 soldiers from 18 members of the alliance and partner countries testing their capabilities at a time of heightened tensions with Moscow.
The drills, the largest military manoeuvres in Poland since the fall of communism in 1989, were held just weeks before Warsaw hosts a 8-9 July NATO summit.
The meeting is expected to confirm that the Western military alliance will send four multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states, which all fear potential Russian aggression.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that US missile defences in Europe have the potential to be turned into a system that could be used against Russia.
Construction of a US missile shield base at Redzikowo in northern Poland officially started last month.