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22 Apr, 2024 20:35

NATO nation’s PM questions president’s nuclear claim

Poland has not yet decided to host American atomic bombs, Donald Tusk implied
NATO nation’s PM questions president’s nuclear claim

Polish President Andrzej Duda’s comments about hosting US nuclear weapons need clarification, the country's prime minister, Donald Tusk, has said.

Duda had claimed in an interview with the outlet Fakt that his country would be ready if the US offered to situate nuclear weapons on its territory. Discussions with Washington about Warsaw potentially participating in the US “nuclear sharing program” were ongoing, he said, adding that nothing specific had been arranged.

“I look forward to meeting the president about this. I would like to understand his intentions,” Tusk told reporters on Monday afternoon. He added that while he would like Poland to be as well-armed and prepared as possible, “I would also like any initiatives to be well prepared by the people in charge and for all of us to be convinced that’s what we want.”

“This idea is very massive, I would say very serious,” said the prime minister.

Tusk is the leader of Civic Platform, the senior partner in the current ruling coalition, which took power last December, unseating the Law and Justice (PiS) party that Duda came from, though is no longer formally affiliated with. The two have since often publicly disagreed on policy issues. 

The US currently has gravity bombs deployed in five fellow NATO member states: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye. Poland has made noises about joining the club for years. Should Warsaw and Washington actually go through with it, that would put the NATO nuclear arsenal right on the border of Russia’s Kaliningrad Region as well as Belarus, Russia’s key ally. 

“If our allies decide to deploy nuclear weapons as part of nuclear sharing also on our territory to strengthen the security of NATO’s eastern flank, we are ready for it,” Duda told Fakt

The statement was quickly condemned in Moscow, however. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would “take all necessary countermeasures to ensure our security,” while Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that the “relevant facilities” in Poland would “immediately be listed as legitimate targets in case of a direct military conflict with NATO.”

Russia has repeatedly said it has never threatened to use its nuclear arsenal, and that a nuclear war must never be fought. Last month, however, President Vladimir Putin signaled that Moscow was ready for such a scenario “from the military and technical point of view.”