NATO
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NATO soldier atop a tank in NOBLE JUMP exercises of the VJTF
Calls for confrontation with Russia made by the German defense minister were careless and inflammatory, the head of one of the country's governing coalition parties has said, after Berlin told NATO to brazenly threaten Moscow.

On Monday, the parliamentary chairman of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SDP), Rolf Mützenich, accused Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is in charge of the country's military forces, of making provocative comments. According to him, NATO threatening Russia with its nuclear forces would fan the flames of the worsening international relations between Moscow and the US-led bloc. He said:
"The Defense Minister's recent conclusions about the use of nuclear weapons in the event of a conflict with Russia are irresponsible. Mrs. Kramp-Karrenbauer['s comments are] no different from the equally unfounded threats from the Russian side."
Mützenich added that such statements contributed to the "spiral of escalation."

Kramp-Karrenbauer has been one of the most enthusiastic backers of NATO's new masterplan to counter Russia should a military conflict break out between the two sides. The strategy, which was agreed last week, envisages the bloc's troops fighting Russian forces in the Baltic region and across the Black Sea, while also discussing the prospects for the deployment of non-conventional warfare, including nuclear weapons, cyber-attacks, and space technology.

"This is the way of deterrence," Kramp-Karrenbauer told German radio Deutschlandfunk earlier this week, commenting on the idea of deploying nuclear weapons over Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian airspace to protect those nations from what NATO called the "Russian threat."
"We must make it very clear to Russia that we are ready to use such measures as well, so that it would have an early deterrent effect. This is in response to the current behavior of Russia."
On Saturday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told his German counterpart:
"Security in Europe can only be collective without the infringement of Russia's interest, but, currently, NATO is the party that's not ready for equal dialogue on this issue.

"Amid calls to deter Russia militarily, NATO is consistently building up its forces near our borders. The German foreign minister must know quite well how such actions have ended for Germany and Europe previously."
Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg blamed the rising tensions on Moscow, despite the bloc having expelled Russia's diplomatic representatives at the start of the standoff. According to him, relations have reached a new low as the result of the Kremlin's decision to retaliate.

"The relationship between NATO and Russia is now at the lowest point since the end of the Cold War," he said. However, Stoltenberg insisted that, despite having expelled around half of Russia's diplomatic mission in NATO's headquarters in Brussels just weeks ago, the bloc was still receptive to negotiations.

Responding to Stoltenberg's comments, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the remarks were "worthless," and argued that relations were actually now
"in a state worse than at any point during the darkest days of the Cold War. Yes, we heard the statement by Mr. Stoltenberg about his alleged readiness to discuss security issues with Russia. Well, what can I say? There is nothing behind these statements in practical terms."