MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The placement of German troops in the Baltic States on the border with Russia sends "a false signal," former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in an interview with Stern newspaper published on Wednesday.
According to Stern, within the framework of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence posture in Eastern Europe, some 450 soldiers of the Bundeswehr (German army) are deployed in Lithuania.
"Of course, one should try to understand Russia and its president. From the Russian perspective, NATO is building a circle from Turkey through South and Central Eastern Europe up to the Baltic sea… The deployment of German soldiers on the Russian border is a completely false signal [even though there is no direct threat to Russia]," Schroeder said.
Former German chancellor added that in its relations with Russia, Germany should not focus on the interests of the United States, because Washington is not interested in strong Russia.
"But Europe, especially Germany, has different [unlike US] interests," Schroeder stressed.
NATO-Russia relations have been complicated over the past years. This has happened in part due to NATO's sustainable course for the Alliance’s expansion by engaging Eastern European states since 2014, justifying the expansion as a response to Russia’s alleged meddling in the Ukrainian conflict. Moscow has repeatedly refuted these allegations. On December 22, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the NATO grouping near the Russian borders has grown threefold in the past 10 years and eightfold along the country's western borders.