Speaking to Radio Sputnik, British military historian Martin McCauley stated that it doesn't make sense for the US to deploy nuclear weapons on Russian borders because they would be difficult to defend, while bigger countries like Germany don't want them on their soil.
Sputnik / Evgeniya Novozhenova
McCauley, a senior lecturer at the University of London on Eastern Europe, China and terrorism, told Radio Sputnik Wednesday that "placing [the weapons] in small countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania makes them very difficult to defend, and it would make more sense to have them in a larger country such as Germany, which doesn't border Russia."
However, McCauley noted that "looking at Germany, the majority of Germans don't want nuclear weapons on their soil." The professor explained that this goes back to the Cold War era, when West Germans showed "great resistance to placing American nuclear weapons on West German soil. This continues today, so it will be a hard sell for Angela Merkel" if she makes such a decision. Still, "it is possible that the weapons may still end up in Germany because there are still American bases there."
McCauley believes that an important factor in Washington's calculations is the fact over the past 50 years, "Europe has always been very resistant to nuclear weapons on its soil."
Sputnik / Alexei Danichev
Asked to comment on how Moscow and Washington might find compromise on this issue, McCauley cited the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty agreement reached between the US and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s as precedent, but noted that there is unlikely to be a modern day equivalent any time soon. McCauley notes that NATO's ability to move heavy equipment around Eastern Europe might be perceived by Russia as a provocative action necessitating a response. "The reason behind the Russian air force's 40 new ICBMs is that President Putin perceives NATO to be arming and becoming more aggressive and therefore threatening Russian security."
McCauley noted that in Europe, NATO policy is presently being guided by "some of the smaller countries in Eastern Europe," which feel insecure over being "no match for the Russian military…You don't get it from Britain or France or Spain or Germany or Italy; these countries don't feel threatened by Russia." McCauley noted that these larger Western countries are forced to respond to the insecurities of their eastern counterparts.
The professor also considers the NATO buildup as an attempt to give its members "the impression that NATO is relevant, since over the last 5 to 10 years, there has been a debate about whether NATO has any mission at all, whether it is valuable and whether it should exist. It needs an enemy and a mission, and can say that it has one –Russia," whose perceived actions in Ukraine are making some of the alliance's eastern members feel insecure.
AFP 2020 / SVEN HOPPE / DPA
Commenting on the rift between the US and European NATO members over the goal to increase defense spending to 2 percent of GDP, Dr. McCauley noted that there has been great resistance to this suggestion, "because most of NATO's states are more or less broke or nearly broke, and do not want to spend much on defense." As a result, he notes, "NATO is in a difficult position." The professor notes that European reliance on the US for defense is becoming more and more unpalatable to US officials, with strategists considering China in Asia to be much more of a strategic threat than Russia is in Europe.
Earlier this month, US officials raised the possibility of deploying nuclear missiles in Europe after accusing Russia of violating the INF Treaty. Russian Defense Ministry responded that such a deployment would render the US non-compliant with the treaty.
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