Stoltenberg said the alliance was using both a political and military approach to dealing with Russia in the Baltics.
“We need strong defence to prevent conflicts but we also need political dialogue to reduce tensions,” said Stoltenberg in Trondheim, Norway ahead of a multinational NATO naval exercise there.
“All 28 allies are behind this dual-track approach and I welcome both Germany’s strong support for the dialogue effort but also Germany’s contribution to our increased military presence in the east.”
Remarks from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier were published in the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag on Monday saying that NATO was “inflaming the situation by warmongering and stomping boots.”
Stoltenberg responded by saying: “I can only say that we have seen a more assertive Russia, which has tripled defence spending since 2000, which has acquired new and more modern different capabilities and which has been willing to use military force against an independent country, Ukraine, and all of this is the reason why we are strengthening our collective defence.”
Germany is set to lead one of the four NATO battalions set to be stationed in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland but the comments by Steinmeier appeared to indicate differences withing Germany’s ruling government on their approach to Russia.
Stoltenberg said a two-track approach of political dialogue and an increased military presence in the Baltic States and Poland was “something which is also very much in line with what has been the message from Germany in NATO for many, many years.”