Germany’s foreign minister has called for a new arms control deal with Moscow to avoid an escalation of tensions in Europe, where intensified military exercises by Russia and NATO have raised concerns that a war could inadvertently be triggered.
In an apparent reference to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Russia had violated basic, non-negotiable principles of peace, breaking delicate bonds of trust built up over decades.
“At the same time, we must all be united in the desire to avoid a further twist in the escalating spiral,” he said in an advanced release of an opinion piece to run in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung‘s Friday edition.
The United States switched on an $800 million missile shield in Romania yesterday (12 May) that it sees as vital to defend itself and Europe from so-called rogue states but the Kremlin says is aimed at blunting its own nuclear arsenal.
He said a new arms control process would offer a “proven means for transparency, risk avoidance and trust building”.
“In addition, we want a structured dialogue, with all partners who carry responsibility for the security of our continent,” he wrote, noting that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could be a forum for talks.
On Wednesday, a group of former foreign and defence ministers said Russia and NATO must agree common rules to handle unexpected military encounters to reduce the risk of inadvertently triggering a war between Moscow and the West.
Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, drew the criticism from NATO officials in June after warning their decision to stage military manoeuvres in eastern Europe amounted to “sabre-rattling and shrill war cries” that could worsen tensions with Russia.
His Social Democrats (SPD) generally back a more conciliatory stance towards Russia than Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc.
Fulfilling the full potential of a NATO-Russia relationship is vital for the security of all, writes Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary-general of NATO.