Poland ready to participate more in nuclear deterrent

HomeNewsPoland ready for greater involvement in nuclear deterrence

Russia wants to station nuclear weapons in Belarus. Will Poland now insist on the stationing of US nuclear weapons on its territory? Rather no.

Michael Fisher


Alexander Welscher



According to the Polish security adviser Jacek Siewiera, Poland can imagine greater participation in NATO’s nuclear deterrence.Michael Kappeler/dpa

Berlin/Riga/Warsaw-Poland can imagine greater participation in NATO’s nuclear deterrence – even without stationing nuclear weapons on their own territory.

„Poland would potentially be ready to expand its participation and cooperation within the framework of NATO’s nuclear deterrent and to take responsibility,“ said the security adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda, Jacek Siewiera, the German Press Agency. „Deploying nuclear weapons is different,“ he added.

A few days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he wanted to station nuclear weapons in Belarus – a country that borders Poland. NATO countries like the USA and Germany reacted calmly.

The US has deployed nuclear weapons in several European countries, including Germany, for many decades. Up to 20 bombs are said to be stored at the Büchel air base in the Rhineland-Palatinate Eifel. Tornado fighter jets are also stationed there, which are supposed to use the weapons in an emergency.

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In NATO jargon, this is called „nuclear sharing“. So far, Poland has only been involved in consultations, for example in NATO’s nuclear planning group, which meets in top secret. Siewiera did not say exactly how he imagines greater participation. However, he pointed out that nuclear sharing also includes aircraft that could carry “special weapons”.

As early as October last year, Polish President Duda announced his fundamental interest in greater participation in NATO’s nuclear deterrence. „We have spoken to American leaders about whether the United States is considering such a possibility. The topic is open,” he told the Polish magazine “Gazeta Polska” at the time. At the time, it was understood that the stationing of nuclear weapons on Polish territory was an option for him.

„It’s not about feelings, it’s about calculations“

When asked whether Poland wanted nuclear weapons on its territory in order to feel safer, Siewiera said: „It’s not about feelings, it’s about calculations. There are already numerous nuclear weapons in Europe within the framework of nuclear sharing.” But it is even easier “to use tactical nuclear weapons with modern equipment, with modern aircraft,” added the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau.

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There is no official information on the US nuclear weapons stationed in Europe. In addition to Germany, they should also be stored in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey. According to expert estimates, there should still be around 100 in total. They have an explosive force of up to 50 kilotons – about 13 times that of the first US atomic bomb, which almost completely destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. Two other NATO countries, Great Britain and France, have their own nuclear weapons.

The Baltic states are also not calling for nuclear weapons

At the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius in July, there may be talks about how NATO’s nuclear deterrence should continue. But so far there have been no demands from the Baltic states to move nuclear weapons eastwards within the alliance area.

Latvia and Lithuania – which, in addition to Belarus, also border directly on Russia – want to campaign for new sanctions instead. The planned stationing of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus is nothing new and poses no greater threat than Russia as a whole, said Latvian NATO ambassador Edgars Skuja on Latvian radio.

Lithuania’s Defense Minister: Defense guaranteed

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas also sees no need to react immediately to the Russian plans. „We shouldn’t let that distract us and shout, ‚What’s going to happen now?'“ he said after the announcement of Russia’s nuclear plans.

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„The defense of a NATO country against the threat of nuclear weapons is guaranteed, regardless of whether these weapons are stationed west of our borders, east or north.“ He was referring to the fact that in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad east of Lithuania or in the area around St. Petersburg in the north could be nuclear weapons.

A few years ago, Russia stationed Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, which can be equipped with nuclear warheads and have a range of 500 kilometers – they could use them to fly to Germany.

The fact that such missiles, together with converted aircraft capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, are now to be transferred to Belarus is „not unexpected“ for the Lithuanian army chief Valdemaras Rupsys. Of course it’s a „challenge,“ he said. However, he does not think it would be so easy to transfer nuclear weapons to Lithuania – even if the political will were there. To do this, the conditions for storing them must first be created.