“It is also Germany’s concern to strengthen the security of all eastern member states,” Merkel said on Friday during a joint press conference with visiting Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, highlighting a stronger German involvement within the framework of NATO in Eastern Europe, Xinhua news agency reported.
Berlin’s plan could see Germany deploy between 150 and 250 soldiers in Lithuania to lead a broader alliance force of some 1,000 rotating troops, according to German media.
Merkel went on to say that Germany’s planned troop increase was in accordance with the NATO-Russia act, referring to a 1997 agreement on post-Cold War relations.
The pact notably bans the permanent stationing of “substantial forces” and equipment in former Warsaw Pact states.
The chancellor emphasized that the troop deployment in the east should not spark tensions with Moscow. “We must always be prepared to allow for dialogue. I think that is very important.”
The German government, she added, is very much in favour of a resumption of dialogue within the NATO-Russia Council.
In mid-April, the NATO-Russia Council met for the first time in two years to discuss the Ukraine crisis.