Who is rattling ‘nuclear saber’ in Europe?

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
© RT
Some in the West have recently ratcheted up their rhetoric about Russia’s “nuclear saber-rattling” in Europe. Indeed, the USSR did deploy nuclear weapons in the then countries of the Warsaw Pact.

However, it was in response to the deployment of similar US arms in NATO countries, and later the Soviet nukes were completely withdrawn from Europe. Moreover, Russia has reduced its arsenal of non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) by three-quarters, transferred them back home and stored within its own territory.

And what was the US’ answer to such unprecedented operation? Not only have the US continued keeping its NSNW in Europe, but have also engaged actively in their modernization with an eye on expanding their offensive capabilities. American B61 nuclear bombs have obtained a completely new capacity as precision nuclear weapons capable of striking underground targets more effectively.

Under the pretext of limiting the “collateral damage” the capacity of modernized nuclear weapons will be somewhat reduced, which might indicate the intention to use these weapons in densely populated areas. It is also planned to update delivery vehicles in Europe by purchasing new American F-35 fighter jets that are “invisible” to radar systems and capable of striking targets in Russian territory. In general, the modernization would mean a qualitative change in the characteristics of the US nuclear arsenal in Europe that is fraught with a dangerous lowering of the “nuclear threshold.”

As to the so-called NATO’s “joint nuclear missions,” including joint nuclear planning and regular exercises on rehearsing the use of nuclear weapons. These drills involve non-nuclear states providing aircraft carriers, crews, airfields and other ground infrastructure. Such acts flagrantly violate key articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The NATO Strategic Concept, adopted at the summit in Lisbon in November 2010, consolidates the nuclear backbone of the alliance’s military policy. At the summit in Chicago, in May 2012, NATO officially declared itself a “nuclear alliance”, which will remain so “as long as nuclear weapons exist.” There is no such thing in international law, which recognizes only nuclear states.

The Europeans are subjected to a propaganda campaign over a “Russian nuclear threat”, although the Russian military doctrine clearly states that nuclear weapons can hypothetically be used only in response to an attack with weapons of mass destruction or to a large-scale aggression that would threaten the very existence of our country. None of these scenarios implies any “aggression” on our part. So, who is actually rattling one’s saber in Eastern Europe?

We have been constantly championing for further limitations and reductions of nuclear weapon stockpiles, along with strengthening international arms control and non-proliferation regimes. Unfortunately, what we see now is a far cry from what the international community was striving for. Among other things that affects global stability and deterrence, and the trust between Russia and the West is being eroded. Some of the critical Russian concerns are left unaddressed. At the same time, further dialog on nuclear disarmament could only be successful if the core principle of international security is observed – i.e. that the security of one country should not be strengthened at the expense of others.

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