German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen
© AFP/Scanpix

Russia needs to be given a clear message that interfering in NATO member states in any way is not acceptable, said German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

“Russia needs to get a clear message that it should not even dream about conquering or interfering in the territory of a NATO member state,” said Von der Leyen referring in particular to the Baltic States and Poland reports Die Presse.

The German Defence Minister voiced sharp criticism of Russia after meeting the Austrian Minister of Defence in Vienna, saying Russia showed a lack of respect for national sovereignty.

“Russia is thinking in terms of spheres of influence,” said the German Defence Minister. She said that while the EU needed to keep talking to Russia it also needed to pursue a policy of deterrence to make clear what was acceptable and what was not.

The comments may have been directed at countries open to an easing of sanctions against Russia and Von der Leyen said that military cooperation in the EU needed to be increase.

Contrasting with the values of the European Union, the minister pointed out that Russia‘s inability to accept criticism was its weakest point.

After meeting the Austrian Minister of Defence in Vienna, Von der Leyen spoke on the issues of a unified but fragmented Europe, about the crisis in the south and the east, Afghanistan. The Minister emphasized the migrant crisis was destabilizing the Balkans.

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