Cold War Resurgent, US Nukes Could Soon Return to Europe

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Florian Gathmann, Matthias Gebauer, Christiane Hoffmann, Gordon Repinski, Matthias Schepp, Christoph Schult and Klaus Wiegrefe, June 19, 2015 (Photo Gallery).

Washington is once again talking about stationing nuclear warheads in Europe. Russia, too, is turning up the rhetoric. Europeans are concerned about becoming caught in the middle of a new Cold War … //

… Avoiding Open Disagreement:

Moscow sees the American plans as a further proof that Washington intends to expand its military sphere of influence in Europe. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s spokesman has said that “Washington and its partners are clearly aiming for the final break-up of the NATO-Russia Founding Act.”

Berlin, however, does not want to abandon the treaty. Consistent with the treaty, the German government has fundamentally ruled out the “substantial” or “permanent” stationing of NATO troops in the former Eastern Bloc. That wording was chosen to assuage Russian concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion.

The US plans appear designed with an eye toward avoiding an open disagreement. That is why Washington only intends to send a few companies to the border nations, say sources at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The larger part of the brigade will be initially stationed in Grafenwöhr, in the German region of Upper Palatinate. The same is apparently true of the heavy weaponry. The Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, estimates that it will include approximately 100 battle tanks. The German Defense Ministry believes that US Defense Minister Ashton Carter will be discussing the details with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen during his visit on Monday.

Still, many NATO member states are critical of the plans, particularly in Western Europe. Internally, some are warning against escalating the conflict with Russia. Stationing weapons in Europe is not characteristic of “an exit strategy,” said Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Tuesday during a visit to Berlin.

The new US plans are only the latest step in an overall period of rearmament, a dangerous development that had already started before the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. Washington and Moscow have cancelled or undermined one disarmament treaty after another. The end of the Cold War saw the signing of a number of far-reaching agreements pertaining to conventional and nuclear disarmament, from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. But now, the agreements, some of which took decades to hammer out, are losing their value. “Moscow no longer believes the West and the West doesn’t believe Moscow. That’s terrible,” declared Mikhail Gorbachev told SPIEGEL in January. “If one side loses its nerves in this inflamed atmosphere, then we won’t survive the coming years,” he said.

Wild Threats: … //

… (full text).


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