Germany withdrew a platoon stationed in Lithuania for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) mission amid charges of serious misconduct.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on Twitter that the entire military unit would be withdrawn “with immediate effect,” describing the misconduct of some soldiers as “a slap in the face of all who serve in the Bundeswehr for security in our country every day.”
“The derailments damage the reputation of the Bundeswehr and Germany,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said, adding that necessary investigations are ongoing and consequences will be drawn.
News magazine Der Spiegel first reported on June 14 the misconduct allegations related to a party held at a hotel in Lithuania at the end of April, in which some soldiers are suspected of making violent threats, singing anti-Semitic songs, and recording an incident of sexual assault against another soldier.
Der Spiegel later published further allegations of sexual harassment and racist comments against the soldiers.
“Particularly in Lithuania, where we stand side-by-side with our NATO partners for common values, such behavior by individuals isn’t just completely inexcusable, it’s absolutely shameful to us all,” Defense Ministry Spokesperson Christina Routsi said in Berlin.
About 30 soldiers would be repatriated and if the allegations are proven to be true, some will face possible immediate dismissal, according to Routsi.
The platoon was in Lithuania as part of a NATO mission called “enhanced Forward Presence” that trains local soldiers in some eastern European countries to deter Russian aggression.
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