Russian ambassador tells US to bring its nukes home
The US should bring its foreign-based nuclear weapons back to American territory and stop training troops from non-nuclear countries to use the arms, Russia’s ambassador to Washington said on Saturday.
Anatoly Antonov was speaking in response to an article published by Politico on Wednesday, claiming the US was planning to speed up the deployment of B61-12 nuclear bombs to NATO bases in Europe.
According to diplomatic cables seen by the outlet, the upgraded, more accurate bombs will arrive on the continent as soon as December, instead of spring 2023 as previously planned. The $10 billion B61-12 life extension program is expected to replace several earlier versions of the weapon, including about 100 bombs at air bases in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Türkiye.
In a message released by the Russian embassy, Antonov said officials in Washington call B61-12 munitions “tactical” and “speculate that the Russian arsenal of the same class is several times larger than that of the US. However, they fail to mention the fact that all our tactical nuclear weapons are stockpiled in centralized storage facilities on Russian territory and cannot pose a threat to the US.”
“The US bombs, on the other hand, are deployed in European countries with a short flight time to Russian borders. Therefore, despite their limited yield, B61-12 play a strategic role,” he added.
The ambassador also rejected claims by the US and NATO that Washington's regular nuclear warfare training exercises with the involvement of non-nuclear countries are not directed against Russia. “The question arises: against what other country the alliance, whose Strategic Concept calls Russia ‘the most significant and direct threat,’ trains to use nuclear weapons?” he asked.
The world is currently going through a period of “tension and heightened risks” due to the conflict in Ukraine, and nuclear powers such as the US and Russia “bear a special responsibility for preventing escalation,” Antonov insisted.
“With this in mind, I once again urge Washington to return all of its nuclear weapons deployed abroad to the national territory and eliminate foreign infrastructure for their storage and maintenance. As well as to abandon the practice of training military personnel from non-nuclear states to use such weapons as part of the so-called nuclear-sharing missions that contradict the fundamental principles of the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons),” he said.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed “some senior officials in NATO states” for suggesting that deploying nuclear weapons against Russia was justified. He warned that Moscow was ready to “use all means” to defend itself in case of such an attack. His words were interpreted by the US and its allies as a “veiled threat” by the Kremlin to use atomic weapons during Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
Numerous Russian officials have since insisted that the country was not threatening anybody with atomic weapons and pointed to Russia’s military doctrine, which states that such weapons can only be used if weapons of mass destruction are being deployed against the state, or it is faced with an existential threat from conventional warfare.