German minister: Putin should not go shopping on Champs Elysée

As Moscow assembles troops near the Ukrainian border, concerns over a possible planned offensive on the country have been growing. [EPA-EFE/Bernd Wuestneck]

Harsher sanctions should be imposed on Russian President Vladimir Putin for deploying troops at the Ukrainian border, Germany’s new Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht told the weekly Bild am Sonntag on Sunday. Putin should “personally feel the consequences” of his actions and not be allowed to “go shopping on the Champs Elysée in Paris anymore,” she added.

As Moscow assembles troops near the Ukrainian border, concerns over a possible planned offensive on the country have been growing.

The EU and the G7 have warned Russia of “massive consequences” in case of an attack on Ukraine.

Asked whether the EU should also look to the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 for potential sanctions, Lambrecht said the bloc would need to “use its complete toolbox”.

Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock also promised “harsh diplomatic” and economic consequences in case of Russian aggression. On Friday, Baerbock sent one of her state secretaries to Ukraine. According to the foreign ministry, the step conveys Germany’s solidarity with Ukraine.

Lambrecht did not exclude sending German soldiers to Ukraine but said any steps taken would need to be closely coordinated with NATO partners and “all other options, including economic sanctions and diplomacy” should first be exhausted..

The comments came ahead of Lambrecht’s first foreign trip in office. On Sunday, she travelled to Lithuania, where she met with her counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas and visited German NATO soldiers. “We stand firm at the side of our partners and friends,” Lambrecht said during a joint press conference.

The minister also reaffirmed the new government’s commitment to spending 3% of its GDP on defence, diplomacy and development aid combined. While NATO members have committed to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence, Germany’s defence spending currently makes up only around 1.6%.

(Julia Dahm I EURACTIV.de)

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