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German Defense Minister Calls For Harsher Sanctions Against Russia Over Troop Deployment

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht visited German troops in Lithuania on December 19.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has called for harsher sanctions against Russia over its troop deployment on the Ukrainian border, saying those responsible for any aggression must face "personal consequences.”

Lambrecht told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag that Germany and its allies should put Russian President Vladimir Putin and his entourage "in our sights."

"We have to exhaust all the diplomatic and economic sanction possibilities. And all further steps should be agreed with our allies," she said.

Lambrecht’s comments were published on December 19 as she visited German soldiers deployed in Lithuania as part of a NATO mission.

The visit comes amid growing concerns over regional security after Russia amassed some 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine in what Washington says could be preparations for an invasion.

Germany provides about half of the 1,200 troops of the multinational NATO combat unit in Lithuania and leads the unit as a so-called framework nation.

In response to Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, NATO strengthened the protection of its eastern flank. Joint combat units were stationed in the three Baltic states and in Poland as part of an "enhanced forward presence."

Lambrecht took up the post of defense minister this month in Germany's new government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP