"It is better to talk to Moscow from a position of strength," she said.
Kremlin's threats to update nuclear arsenal shall be met by NATO with "cool head and persistently outstretched hand," von der Leyen said.
"We want to live peacefully with Russia," she said, pointing at the same time to the changed security situation that requires action.
According to the German Minister, the Eastern European NATO countries need protection from the alliance.
"We have not forgotten that for decades Germany has also been defended by NATO," von der Leyen added.
On Monday, June 22, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised the leadership of Germany in Ukraine's crisis period.
At the same time, he urged her to increase spending on defense. In March, Germany stated for the first time in nearly 50 years of disarmament it plans to increase defense spending in response to the threat of global instability.
Key NATO countries, in spite of a declared threat to international security due to Russia's aggression of Russia in Ukraine, on the contrary, have continued to cut defense spending.