Steinmeier lambastes Nato exercise

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has criticised the Nato exercise in Poland as "sabre-rattling and a battle cry" and warned against further policies of deterrence. Is he playing into Moscow's hands?

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Zeit Online (DE) /

West should recognise Crimea's annexation

The German foreign minister is right when he warns Nato against sabre-rattling vis-à-vis Russia, Theo Sommer writes in his column for Zeit Online:

“Just where in the West's realpolitik do we find dialogue? Ludicrously, after the annexation of Crimea discussions were broken off in the Nato-Russia Council - as if it weren't essential to talk precisely when the going gets tough. ... The West has a trump in its hand: it could recognise the annexation of Crimea if Putin offered enough in exchange. ... No Kremlin leader would ever give the peninsula back, even if the West imposed sanctions for the next 50 years. So rather than reluctantly accepting the annexation so as to secure the status quo in the rest of Europe through diplomatic means, it would be better to adopt comprehensive rules which, while not undermining our ability to defend ourselves, would lay the foundations for a long-term policy of détente, reconciliation and cooperation. But Frank-Walter Steinmeier hasn't got that far yet. The time is not yet ripe.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Steinmeier weakening Nato

With his criticism of the military exercise on Russia's border Germany's foreign minister has weakened the EU and Nato, Der Standard warns:

“The Alliance wanted to show Russia after the latter's hybrid military aggression in Ukraine that it will protect its members in Eastern Europe. It had become clear that the sanctions imposed by the EU and supported by Berlin after Russia's annexation of Crimea were not effective. Steinmeister's volte-face, which annoyed both the EU and Nato because he depicted the West as the aggressor, is probably motivated by domestic policy interests. A year before the general elections the SPD wants to distance itself from its coalition partner. It is no mere coincidence that at the same time SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel harshly reprimanded the CDU, admonishing it to form a solidarity alliance 'against the right'. He meant an alliance with the Greens and the pro-Putin Left Party - a red-red-green alliance. Gabriel himself will soon pay a visit to Vladimir Putin. The lord of the Kremlin can be satisfied: he is dividing Berlin politically while Steinmeier weakens the EU and Nato.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Important military exercise against hybrid war

The daily paper taz praises Nato's decision to include civil defence corps in the military exercise:

“In all countries on Nato's eastern flank armed civil defence corps have been created to fight against 'little green men' - soldiers in unmarked green uniforms like those in the Ukraine war - in military exercises on a regular basis. So it's no wonder the war scenario for Anaconda 2016 is identical to the hybrid war in Crimea and the ensuing illegal annexation by Russia. … Anyone who doesn't want a hybrid war to break out on the EU and Nato's eastern border as a result of one of the many Russian provocations or because of a miscalculation will approve of this manoeuvre. Some of the civil defence corps are being included in the exercises for the first time, so that on the one hand the command structures are clarified and on the other hand the danger posed by a 'little skirmish' that initially appears harmless can be banished.”

Polityka (PL) /

US clearly indispensable

The exercise shows how much Europe depends on the US in its conflicts with Russia, Marek Świerczyński explains in his blog with news magazine Polityka:

“This exercise, the biggest since Poland joined Nato, is intended to demonstrate that the community, or at least its largest member states, are in a position and determined to defend their eastern flank. In practice this means that the Americans are the only hope for the alliance. This is why they've been given free rein to do whatever they like in Poland. ... It's not surprising that in view of the relatively modest participation of the countries of Western Europe the US army is dominating this historical military exercise on Polish territory. However, some allies argue that the deployment of more than ten thousand soldiers on the border with Russia shortly before the Nato summit sends a provocative, unnecessary and therefore damaging signal to Moscow.”