The deeply contentious issue of US and NATO nuclear weapons right on Russia’s European doorstep of Poland is front and center once again, as the redeployment of US nuclear weapons from Germany to Poland is said to actually be on the table following an ongoing fierce debate inside Germany’s coalition government over the possible removal of US nuclear weapons from their soil.
It started with a hugely provocative statement from Rick Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany who is also the acting director of National Intelligence, who wrote last week, “The purpose of NATO’s nuclear share is to keep non-nuclear member states involved in the planning of NATO’s deterrence policy. Germany’s participation in nuclear share ensures that its voice matters.” He followed up with what appears a threatening ultimatum to the allied country:
“Will Germany bear this responsibility, or will it sit back and simply enjoy the economic benefits of security provided by its other allies?”
Amb. Grenell’s words were posted the US Embassy in Germany’s website. On the heels of these statements came a Saturday tweet by US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, who went so far to boldly suggest that America’s European nuclear arsenal could be hosted in Poland.
Needless to say this is about the most outlandishly hawkish take proposed in years, even by Cold War standards:
If Germany wants to diminish nuclear capability and weaken NATO, perhaps Poland – which pays its fair share, understands the risks, and is on NATO’s eastern flank – could house the capabilities here: https://t.co/VIzpHIgoUN
— Georgette Mosbacher (@USAmbPoland) May 15, 2020
And when you’ve lost the notoriously hawkish Brookings Instutition, you know you’re far out on a limb even by beltway standards.
In an incredibly rare moment, the think-tank which is stacked with neocon pundits declared it “a truly bad idea”.
.@steven_pifer: “Relocating U.S. nuclear weapons to Poland would be expensive, militarily unwise because it would make the weapons more vulnerable to preemptive attack, unduly provocative, and divisive within NATO.” https://t.co/4PaiKfp8hO
— Brookings FP (@BrookingsFP) May 19, 2020
The Kremlin has responded, issuing its own indirect threat warning of the “dangerous nature” and “jeopardized” European security should such an aggressive move be taken.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova addressed both the US and Poland on Tuesday:
“We hope that Washington and Warsaw are aware of the dangerous nature of such statements, which further worsen Russia-NATO relations during this no easy period in their history, as well as jeopardize the very material basis of European security, harmed as a result of unilateral US steps, in the first place, the pullout from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty,” Zakharova said according to TASS.
She continued by underscoring the only way to peace and stability for Europe is for American warheads to be promptly returned to US soil.
“The return of American warheads to the US territory would be a real contribution to strengthening European security. Russia had taken such a move a long time ago by bringing all of its nuclear arms to its national territory,” Zakharova added.
Former United Nations Weapons Inspector and Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, who famously blew the whistle on Bush’s WMD claims during the Iraq War Scott Ritter ripped the whole spectacle, addressing Amb. Mosbacher:
You have no sense of history, do you. Simply one of the dumbest ideas in the world. By the way, the Russian Hogh Command thanks you for making it easier to overrun and seize this so-called nuclear deterrent. Google 1st Guards Tank Army.
— Scott Ritter (@RealScottRitter) May 15, 2020
Ritter followed with an op-ed for Russia’s RT, which said:
US nukes in Poland would not be a deterrent, but a MASSIVE provocation for Russia.
Debate has been raging inside Germany’s coalition government after Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) politician Rolf Mutzenich said nukes on German soil “do not heighten our security,” but “just the opposite”.
The proposed removal is unlikely to happen, however, given the CDU-run governing coalition fears such a major breach with the US would irreversibly “undermine trust” with Washington.