Foreign Minister: Baerbock pledges assistance to Baltic states

foreign minister
Baerbock pledges assistance to Baltic states

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke to Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics about the Ukraine war. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa

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Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania fear they could be Moscow’s next victims after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Foreign Minister Baerbock is sending a clear signal of solidarity.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has promised the Baltic States assistance against a possible threat from Moscow against the background of the Russian war against Ukraine.

NATO will defend its alliance territory and “protect every corner together,” said the Green politician after a meeting with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics in the capital Riga. As NATO allies, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania could “rely on Germany 100 percent”. NATO’s obligation to provide assistance applies without ifs and buts, as does the European assistance clause.

“Europe’s security, the security of all of us, is inextricably linked to the security of the Baltic States,” said Baerbock at the start of her three-day visit to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Together they send a clear message to Moscow: “We will defend peace, sovereignty and freedom.”

Balts demand a stronger NATO presence

Baerbock’s counterparts Rinkevics, Eva-Maria Liimets (Estonia) and Gabrielius Landsbergis (Lithuania) advocated a stronger NATO presence in their countries. “Russia’s war has fundamentally changed the security situation in the region,” emphasized Landsbergis. NATO must be ready to defend the Baltic states from the first minutes of a conflict.

“When it is said that every inch of the territory of the Baltic States is defended, all the necessary means must be in place to defend every inch and every life,” Landsbergis said. The transfer of additional troops and more air and sea defense is “absolutely necessary”. Rinkevics and Liimets made similar demands.

Baerbock conceded to the Balts in relation to Russia: “We may (…) not have listened carefully to the talks that have already taken place in your three countries in recent years, especially since 2014.” Rinkevics said he, like his Baltic counterparts, heard “encouraging and frank words” when speaking to Baerbock. “We see that in Germany there is an understanding that we have to act and we have to act quickly,” he said.

Baerbock: Nord Stream 2 was a fatal error

Baerbock sharply criticized the energy policy towards Russia under the then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). Holding on to the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has long been criticized by Central and Eastern Europeans, was fatal. “Instead of Nord Stream, there could have been, and actually should have been, a Baltic Stream based on clean energy,” she added. “These were clear mistakes”, which the new federal government corrected.

At the same time, Baerbock emphasized that Germany would completely phase out Russian energy imports. «From coal until the end of the summer. We’ll halve oil by the summer and be at zero by the end of the year.” Then follow the exit from Russian gas supplies in a common European timetable. “Because our joint exit, the complete exit of the European Union, that is our common strength.”

Merkel had long described Nord Stream 2 as a private-sector project. After the change of government, her successor, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), did not initially distance himself from the project either. Because of the Russian attack on Ukraine, however, Germany had put the certification of the pipeline on hold.

Baerbock: Independent media against propaganda

Baerbock criticized Russian disinformation and cyber attacks. In addition to suffering and death in Ukraine, “Russia’s nationalistic madness” is leading to tensions in society in Latvia and Germany. “We will not let our societies split,” she emphasized. Putin’s hatred and propaganda are opposed to truth and transparency.

Baerbock said that Germany would also provide military help to Ukraine in the medium and long term. It’s not just about the acute need, but “also about the next three months and also about the next three years. And Germany will be able to contribute more here.” Baerbock’s onward journey to Estonia was planned for Thursday, and she wanted to visit Lithuania on Friday.

dpa

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