On 17 January, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht hosted a dinner for her first international guest, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, at the Federal Ministry of Defence. Topics on the agenda included Russia and the new Strategic Concept for NATO.
Minister Lambrecht underlined the importance of the transatlantic alliance for Germany: “Germany was a front state during the Cold War and benefited directly from the security provided by NATO. The Bundeswehr is an Alliance army.” She went on to say that the Bundeswehr stood firmly by the side of its Allies and was taking on responsibility, in particular in the context of the NATO Response Force and next year in NATO’s VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force spearhead force.
In reference to recent movements of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border and Russian demands on NATO to guarantee no further expansion to the east, the Minister said: “There are no ifs or buts: the Russian build-up at Ukraine’s border violates all rules of peaceful coexistence. We have not forgotten that Russia is the aggressor. Moscow has no right to veto the free decisions of its neighbours. This remains a key principle of European security. We for our part will continue to pursue a dual-track approach of credible deterrence and substantial dialogue.” The Minister welcomed the resumption of dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council last week. She said, however, that this could only have been a first step.
According to Minister Lambrecht, it was particularly important to take into account the EU as work was proceeding on the new Strategic Concept of NATO. As far as German security interests were concerned, NATO and the EU were two sides of the same coin, she said.
NATO Allies are still in the discussion phase of the update of NATO’s Strategic Concept. From April onwards, the outcomes of these debates will be consolidated in a first draft. During their meeting in Brest the week before, EU Defence and Foreign Ministers had consulted on an updated draft of their Strategic Compass. This joint policy document on security is scheduled to be adopted in March 2022.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Minister Lambrecht for her clear commitment to NATO. He commended German servicemen and women for their impressive professionalism and readiness in NATO’s collective defence missions. He went on to say how important it was to see strong signs of solidarity in the Alliance, especially in these difficult times, faced with the Russian military build-up at the border of Ukraine. He added that NATO would also continue its dual-track approach of deterrence and dialogue with Russia. This dialogue would continue in follow-up meetings of the NATO-Russia Council.