NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the US could deploy nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe if Germany refuses to keep it on its territory. On the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized NATO for “stubborn” approaching military infrastructure to the Russian borders. NATO’s nuclear policy provides that, if necessary, the alliance’s partner countries can use US warheads deployed in Europe.
As a member of NATO, Germany participates in the alliance’s nuclear program. This guarantees Berlin a say in the planning or conduct of NATO’s nuclear-armed operations. In exchange, Germany pledges to provide aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons and store nuclear warheads on its territory. In recent years, there has been a discussion in Germany about whether the Germans need American atomic weapons.
The NATO Secretary General noted that the United States has alternatives in which countries to place its nuclear weapons in the event of Germany’s refusal.
“Of course, Germany must decide whether [foreign] nuclear weapons will be deployed in this country, but the alternative is easily that nuclear weapons may end up in other European countries, in particular to the east of Germany,” he said.
On November 18, Putin accused NATO of continuing to “stubbornly and demonstratively” bring its military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders. According to him, anti-missile defense systems have already been deployed in Romania and Poland, on which it is possible to change the software in “a few minutes” and use them against Russia. “We constantly express our concerns about this, we talk about the“ red lines ”, but, of course, we understand that our partners are very peculiar and so – how to put it mildly – very superficially treat all our warnings and talk about the“ red lines” “, – said the president.
The Russian president noted that Moscow’s recent warnings “are still making themselves felt and have a certain effect.” According to Putin, there is a “certain tension” in NATO. The President called for maintaining this tension in the North Atlantic Alliance as long as possible, so that “it would not occur to them to arrange any unnecessary conflict for us on our western borders.”
Commenting on Putin’s remarks, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that NATO had deceived Russia when it promised not to expand eastward. “Now a very similar scenario is observed. We see the drift of the military infrastructure [of the alliance] to the east, we see the rapid process of arming Ukraine by the NATO states, the provocative actions of NATO, “the spokesman added. Peskov explained that Moscow considers plans to further expand NATO to the east unacceptable.
According to NATO, at the height of the Cold War, the United States deployed about 7,300 nuclear weapons in Europe. Today, according to the organization, the number of US nuclear weapons in Europe has decreased by 90%.
The Alliance considers nuclear weapons to be the foundation of its collective security. In explaining its necessity, NATO usually refers to Russia and China, which are developing their nuclear arsenals.
According to the State Department, as of September 1, 2021, the United States had 2,854 warheads in strategic complexes, while Russia had 2,727.
The number of tactical nuclear weapons, including American ones, deployed in Europe has not been officially specified. The US and its European partners are also keen not to disclose where US nuclear weapons are based. Canadian Senator Joseph Day, a member of the Defense and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, accidentally disclosed nuclear sites in Europe in July 2019. His report appeared online, which said it was stored at six American and European military bases, namely Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in the Netherlands and Inçirlik in Turkey. As Deutsche Welle writes, at the base in Germany there are about 20 American nuclear warheads. Germany does not have its own nuclear weapons.
The local social democrats and “greens” urged to remove the US nuclear warheads from the FRG. The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) said that their presence does not strengthen the security of Germany, but vice versa. The German Green Party Union 90 called nuclear bombs “an expensive, outdated, symbolic contribution to being able to vote in NATO.” However, so far Berlin does not seek to abandon American weapons and, on the contrary, supports its modernization. Last year, the United States, as Der Spiegel learned, removed its thermonuclear bombs from Germany, updated their software, and returned them back.
The Russian Foreign Ministry in October accused the United States of secretly modernizing tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Europe, which are not subject to nuclear deterrence treaties. Konstantin Sivkov, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, explained that neither Russia nor the United States would modernize the warheads themselves. “As they were created in the 60-80s, they are still in service. Only delivery vehicles are being modernized, ”he said.