"Starting with the blatant violation of international law in the form of the annexation of Crimea, going on to threatening behaviour to neighbouring states – also of a military nature – right up to the deliberate undermining of arms control agreements." This was the comment of federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert to the press in Berlin, on the subject of the speech given by President Putin on 1 March.
With regard to the current situation in Syria, he said, "We are particularly concerned about the use of Russian weapons systems in Syria." In view of the appalling situation of the civilian population, he continued, there can be no reason to be proud of certain weapon developments and the use of these weapons on the ground – quite the reverse is true.
Dialogue even in difficult times
Russia has the duty to dispel the doubts raised regarding compliance with international agreements. "It is up to Russia to help put in place a framework within which the urgently needed talks on arms control and disarmament can take place. In this regard, President Putin’s statements yesterday were not helpful," warned Steffen Seibert. "The accusation that we do not listen to Russia is simply not true. We are continuing our dialogue with Russia, even on difficult issues such as Ukraine and Syria." Now it is up to Russia to make constructive use of the offer of dialogue.
"Yesterday’s speech was anything but helpful in this regard," underscored Steffen Seibert. "We simply cannot understand the statements made regarding the stationing of the purely defensive NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) missile defence systems." NATO, he continued, has repeatedly made it quite clear that the missile defence is not directed against Russia. This has repeatedly been communicated to Russia in very clear terms, and can also be seen in the public statements made by NATO.
Role of NATO and German nuclear policy
Naturally, NATO must discuss risks to the security of the alliance and find an appropriate response. Germany too is involved in this.
These consultations were also part of the two NATO summits in Warsaw and in Wales, at which the alliance reiterated its two-pronged approach: raising defence capabilities while extending the offer of dialogue to Russia.
The German government has long been committed to the goal of "Global Zero", the complete, verifiable and worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons. The term "Global Zero" can also be found in the relevant NATO documents. As far back as the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization embraced this goal.
Some states, however, continue to see nuclear weapons as an instrument in military conflicts. In a security environment that has changed so significantly. For as long as this is the case – and Germany and Europe are threatened by this – there will be a need to uphold a nuclear deterrent, explained Steffen Seibert. That, he said, is what NATO does for us.