German defense minister wants stronger NATO role in Ukraine

Germany’s Defense Minister calls for stronger NATO presence at Ukraine's borders, but faces opposition from the Christian Democrats Union's coalition partner.

Germany’s Defense Minister calls for stronger NATO presence at Ukraine's borders, but faces opposition from the Christian Democrats Union's coalition partner.

BERLIN – Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has called for a stronger role for NATO in the Ukraine crisis.

“Now it is important for the allies at the external borders that NATO shows its presence there,” von der Leyen told Spiegel Online.

“The current situation clearly reflects that NATO is not only a military alliance but also a political one,” she added.

Von der Leyen, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, has sparked deep uneasiness among the members of the Social Democrats who are the Christian Democrats Union's coalition partner, with her remarks on Ukraine.

“The right instrument in this crisis is not NATO, it is the EU or organizations like the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe,” said Niels Annen, the foreign policy spokesman of the Social Democrat Party. 

“We should continue to seek solutions with patience, we should not look for new headlines,” Annen told Spiegel, openly criticizing von der Leyen.

The social democrat deputy also warned that von der Leyen’s remarks could raise totally unrealistic expectations in Ukraine, while strengthening hardliners in Russia.

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