Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (archive picture): The defense minister wants to try to clarify the events
Photo: Michael Kappeler / dpa
Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has announced tough action against the alleged misconduct of Bundeswehr soldiers in Lithuania. "What exactly happened is still being clarified at the moment," said the CDU politician on the sidelines of talks with NATO colleagues in Brussels. “But one thing has to be said in any case: Whatever has happened is in no way acceptable. It will be persecuted and punished with all severity. "
A SPIEGEL report had previously revealed that the Bundeswehr had meanwhile withdrawn four German soldiers from a NATO mission in Lithuania after alleged serious misconduct at an internal celebration that got completely out of hand. Investigations had revealed initial suspicions of crimes such as sexual assault, insult, possibly with a racist background, and coercion, as well as extremist behavior, according to the Ministry of Defense.
At the party, which took place in a hotel in the Rukla region at the end of April, right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic songs are said to have been sung. There are also film recordings of a suspected sexual assault. The allegations are so explosive that the Ministry of Defense in Berlin was informed of the case at the end of last week. Kramp-Karrenbauer said those who might know about the incidents but did not pass on information would also be held accountable.
The "Enhanced Forward Presence" (eFP) mission in Lithuania is part of NATO's deterrent against Russia.
Since 2017, several hundred German soldiers have been training local units in Lithuania and carrying out joint exercises in order to be ready for action in the shortest possible time in an emergency.
The soldiers regularly spend weekends in the hotel to recover from the exercises.
The entire incident also raises questions because the German soldiers in the NATO camp are strictly prohibited from alcohol.
nek / dpa