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German Defence Chief Demands That ‘Aggressors’ Not Be Allowed to Go Shopping on Champs-Elysees

© REUTERS / Jacky NaegelenPeople walk on the car-free Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, May 8, 2016
People walk on the car-free Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, May 8, 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.12.2021
Russia laid out a pair of proposals to its US and NATO counterparts this week which Moscow says would dramatically strengthen the military security of the entire Euroatlantic and Eurasian space. Officials in Washington and Europe have confirmed that they are studying the documents and have promised to contact Russia to discuss them soon.
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has recommended tougher personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle over Moscow’s alleged “aggressive” behaviour near Ukraine.
“Right now we have to target Putin and those around him,” Lambrecht said, speaking to Bild on Sunday ahead of her visit to Lithuania.

“Those “responsible for aggression must be made to feel personal consequences, for example, that they can no longer go shopping on the Paris Champs-Élysées,” the minister argued, referring to the famous avenue known for its theatres, landmarks, cafes and bevy of luxury shops.

Lambrecht did not specify who among Putin’s inner circle she was talking about, with the Russian president himself only ever visiting Paris on diplomatic trips to meet with his French counterparts, presumably leaving him little time for any “shopping.”
Some relatives of senior Russian officials and businessmen are known to travel to, study or live in Western European countries, including France, however.
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The German defence minister said she was “watching what is happening” on the border between Russia and Ukraine “with great concern.”
“That is why my first foreign mission on Sunday is in Lithuania to visit with the NATO rapid reaction force to get an impression of how the soldiers see the situation in the region,” she said. “Clearly: the aggressor is Russia. We must do everything possible to stop an escalation. This also includes the threat of harsh sanctions.”

Moscow has spent months emphasizing that it has no plans to carry out any “aggression” in Ukraine, amid increasingly worn-out claims by Kiev and its US and EU curators that Russia has concentrated vast armies on the border with its western neighbour.

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Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns about the NATO buildup on its western frontiers, including the “rapid reaction” forces mentioned by Lambrecht, as well as US missile shield components, and the activities of alliance aircraft, drones and warships, which attempt to probe Russia’s airspace and sea borders on an almost daily basis.
On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry handed US diplomats in Moscow two proposals aimed at dramatically easing Russia-NATO tensions. The full texts of the draft agreements were published on the Foreign Ministry’s website on Friday. They include a demand that the US and NATO halt the bloc’s eastern expansion (including into Ukraine), restrictions on the placement of missile systems and troops for all parties, and a commitment by both sides to formally affirm that they do not view one another as adversaries.
Russian diplomats have specified that the draft agreements are not just a “menu where it is possible to pick and choose,” and must be considered “in their totality.” On Saturday, deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko warned that Moscow would be forced to create a system of “counterthreats” if the US and its allies reject the proposals.
Grusho also stressed that if implemented, the current military tensions would shift to a political process that would dramatically strengthen the military security of all members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – the 57-member body covering Russia and the former Soviet Union, Mongolia, all of Europe, the US and Canada.
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