NATO officials were all pleased as punch last week with a major military exercise in Poland, described as the alliance’s single largest since the Cold War. The operation simulated a tank rush across Poland to its eastern border, ending near the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was a lot less upbeat about the operation, saying the exercises were counterproductive “sabre-rattling,” and that the alliance would be further ahead seeking more dialogue with Russia instead of creating “pretexts” for warmongering against them.
“Whoever believes that symbolic tank parades on the alliance’s eastern border will bring more security is mistaken,” Steinmeier added. German tanks were involved in the operation, marking the first time German tanks crossed Poland heading eastward since WW2.
NATO has been running more and more such exercises in Eastern Europe since 2014’s regime change in Ukraine, which ousted a pro-Russian government and led NATO to start predicting an imminent Russian invasion of Europe.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu defended the latest operations as “defensive, proportionate, and in-line with our international commitments,” while German MEP Rebecca Harms slammed Steinmeier as “irresponsible” for questioning NATO’s military buildup on the Russian frontier.