Conducting military exercises close to the Russian border is no way to achieve greater security for Europe, which would be better off initiating a dialogue with Moscow, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday.
Speaking at the close of NATO’s Anaconda 16 military exercise in Poland, Steinmeier warned the alliance against saber-rattling, and urged its members to work together with Russia for the security of Europe.
“What we should not do now, is inflame the situation with loud saber-rattling and war cries,” he told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
“Anyone who thinks that symbolic tank parades on the Eastern border of the alliance create more security is mistaken.”
The Foreign Minister said that NATO members should invest in a partnership with Russia, and gave examples where that kind of cooperation has led to progress.
“The prevention of an Iranian nuclear bomb, the fight against radical Islam in the Middle East and the stabilization of the Libyan state are recent examples,” Steinmeier said.
The Anaconda 16 exercise was conducted in Poland from June 7 to June 17. It involved more than 31,000 participants from 24 countries, making it Europe’s largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War.
The exercise comes ahead of NATO’s summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, at which the alliance is expected to announce more of its military build-up in Eastern Europe.
On Monday NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg informed the press about some of the undertakings that the alliance was expecting from NATO Defense Ministers at meetings last week, decisions which he said will pave the way for the Warsaw summit in July.
His announcements included one concerning the establishment of eight new headquarters in Eastern Europe, and the deployment of four battalions on rotation in Poland and the Baltic states. Stoltenberg highlighted the larger NATO Response Force and new Spearhead Force, and called for further increases in military spending from members.
“Last month, the Spearhead Force conducted an exercise which showed how far we have come. One thousand troops and four hundred military vehicles moved from Spain to Poland within four days,” boasted the NATO Secretary General.