Germany ready to step up defence of Baltics as part of NATO

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Germany ready to step up defence of Baltics as part of NATO

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Friday said Germany was prepared to make a greater contribution to the defence of NATO's eastern flank, on the third stop of her visit to the Baltic states Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, reported dpa.

"If NATO decides that its presence should be increased to brigade-strength, then we as the Federal Republic of Germany will make a substantial contribution to this," she said on Friday after meeting her counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

A brigade usually consists of several thousand soldiers.

"Germany will lead the way," Baerbock said.

Baerbock said the NATO alliance would want to decide on its new defence concept at summit talks in Madrid in June.

This meant more than just paying "lip service" to the issue, she said. "Air defence and a substantial NATO presence" in the Baltics are now necessary in light of Russia's actions in Ukraine, she said.

After repeated attempts to achieve security in Europe with Russia as a partner, Russian President Vladimir Putin is forcing NATO to take a new course, Baerbock said.

"Today it is primarily about security from Russia" and the question of "how we as an alliance position ourselves vis-à-vis Russia in the medium and long term."

Landsbergis said for his part that "NATO must be ready to protect the Baltic state from the first minute of any conflict."

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