Germany is set to deploy troops to the Ukraine for the first time since the Nazi invasion of the then-Soviet territory more than 60 years ago.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and high-level officials were considering the historic move to send 200 peacekeepers–including 50 paratroopers–recently.
Sources in Germany told the Daily Mail that the country is in “exploratory discussions” about taking part in an international force on the ground in Ukraine.
A ceasefire between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government is holding back much of the fighting for now but there is widespread concern that the rampant violence and incursions will start again soon. Despite the ceasefire, Russia is building up troop numbers on its borders, according to Ukraine.
“The West fears Vladimir Putin is determined to build an unofficial buffer state called Novorossiya – or New Russia – in eastern Ukraine,” the Mail revealed.
Meanwhile, the new chief of an alliance in charge of boosting NATO’s military presence in Eastern Europe said that the plan doesn’t violate the post-Cold War deal struck with Russia.
Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to an air force base in Poland that he’s committed to the plan for a “spearhead” rapid reaction force, created by NATO member states in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Russia claims that the increased military presence could violate the 1997 agreement on troop levels that NATO can station in former Soviet states, but Stoltenberg told Reuters that it falls in line with the agreement.
“There is no contradiction between more military presence in this area and also respecting the rule-based international order,” said Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister.
He added that NATO needs to remain a strong military alliance that has “a rock-solid bond” with the United States, but that also approaches Russia with plans to solve problems without fighting.
NATO won’t interfere directly in Ukraine, since it isn’t an alliance member as of yet, but is aiming to reassure member states bordering Ukraine which fear Russia will target them next.
Still, Stoltenberg said that Russia needs to step back.
“Russia has violated international law and has violated its international commitment and violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he said.
“We call on Russia to respect international law and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and to use their influence on separatists to make them respect the ceasefire. Russia has to change their actions, their behavior.”