In an interview with German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse, Erler said that "the decision to deploy troops as well as military operations is provoking both sides, and it's dangerous."
"Exactly such developments eventually lead to uncontrolled situations, even to a war," the politician argued.
"What we should not do now is to inflame the situation with loud saber-rattling and war cries. Anyone who thinks that symbolic tank parades on the Eastern border of the alliance create more security is mistaken," Steinmeier stressed.
Steinmeier's statements provoked criticism among his colleagues in political circles and in the media. Frankfurter Allgemeine journalist Berthold Kohler called his statement a "gift to Putin."
In Erler's opinion, however, the stormy reaction to Steinmeier's words only means that the diplomat said the right thing that corresponds to reality.
"The fact that the reaction was so violent only proves that he touched on a sore place," the German politician stressed.
Last Tuesday, NATO announced its readiness to deploy additional forces in the Baltic States and Poland. The declared aim of the maneuver is to "protect its Eastern European allies from the so-called Russian aggression."