President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has said he may appeal to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin with a request to return nuclear weapons to Belarus. This will happen if similar NATO systems are deployed in Poland. This is how the Belarusian president commented on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's words about the possibility of bringing US nuclear weapons to eastern Germany.
"Then I will suggest that Putin should return nuclear weapons to Belarus. We will agree on what kind. The nuclear weapons that will be most effective in such an engagement. I said for a reason that we in Belarus' territory are ready for it. As a thoughtful landlord I haven't destroyed anything [of the USSR infrastructure for nuclear weapons], all the depots remain in place," Alexander Lukashenko said.
" I would take this statement as a very serious warning, which is dictated, first of all, by the reckless policy pursued by the West," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, speaking at the Federation Council.
A week earlier, Jens Stoltenberg said if Germany refused to keep nuclear weapons in its territory, it would be moved to other European countries, including those located east of Germany. "Germany can, of course, decide whether there will be nuclear weapons in (its) country, but the alternative is that we easily end up with nuclear weapons in other countries in Europe, also to the east of Germany," the North Atlantic Alliance leader said.
According to official data of the annex to the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I), which was signed by the USSR and the USA on July 31, 1991 and took effect on December 5, 1994, there were three Strategic Missile Forces divisions in the territory of Belarus. Their range was up to 10 500 km, with warhead power accounting for 550 kilotons, which is more than twenty times the power of the bomb dropped by the Americans in 1945 on Hiroshima. All these missile systems were withdrawn to the territory of Russia before 1996, with one division disbanded.
And for joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state, ratifying the START-1 Treaty and the Lisbon Protocol, Belarus got quite a lot of money from the United States under the American Cooperative Threat Reduction Program aka the Nunn-Lugar Program named after the senators who initiated it. The Belarusians obtained $120 million in 1992-1994 and another $16 million in 1995. Technological equipment was purchased, mines and launchers were destroyed, and rocket engineers who remained to live in the republic were provided with apartments in the city of Grodno, a total of 170.
And NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's statement about Brussels' readiness to redeploy the alliance's nuclear weapons if Germany refuses to keep them in its territory, east of Berlin (suggesting Poland or the Baltic states), is merely irresponsible rhetoric. Stoltenberg's empty statements are no big deal, just words and nothing more. Why? First, because nukes deployed at Germany's Büchel base do not legally belong to NATO as an organization. Those 20-30 free-fall B-61 atomic bombs of various modifications are American, and no one else's.
Yes, the United States violate the NPT and holds meetings on using nuclear weapons at NATO's nuclear planning group that includes non-nuclear countries. Yes, it violates the NPT and equips German, Italian, Danish, British and other F-16 and Tornado aircraft with devices to use these bombs. Moreover, it violates the NPT and trains pilots of these countries to use nuclear weapons, without allowing them to approach those, except for simulators.
Multifunctional F-16 and Tornado fighters equipped to use American B-61 bombs are on combat duty at bases in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (180 km from St. Petersburg, by the way). But again, only the US president, not the NATO Secretary General, can command to move the bombs from bases in Germany or Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey (no also Greece, they say). Jens Stoltenberg is nothing but the alliance's talking head with no right to dispose of American nuclear weapons. NATO generals don't have it either.
Will American nuclear weapons be moved from Germany to Poland or somewhere else in the Baltic States? I doubt it. There are quite a few reasons. And the stance of the German government and the Bundeswehr is not the main thing here. As regards any country's decision to get rid of American nukes, NATO has already agreed this is only possible if all the 30 alliance members vote in favor by consensus. Which is next to impossible, as no one seeks to quarrel with the United States. Besides, the equipment of warehouses and arsenals for storing nuclear weapons is too expensive and time-consuming, as new advanced concrete bunkers with a constant temperature and adequate climate are needed. And the last, but not the least thing. Deploying nuclear weapons next to the border is very dangerous. Not only ballistic or aviation missiles of a potential aggressor can reach those, but even cannon artillery or multiple-launch rocket systems. No one wants to dig a pit for himself.
And still. Despite the author's skepticism about moving NATO's or Russia's nuclear weapons closer to the borders, nuclear rhetoric is really essential. And it serves as a warning to the aggressor about Russia's inevitable response to the "scare stories" that may turn into real action. Balancing on the edge and intimidating Moscow with "a very big price that it will have to pay", may be worth a lot to NATO. Jens Stoltenberg should remember and memorize the harsh lessons taught by our country to both Napoleon and Hitler, who dreamed of the same thing. So just keep things on an even keel.
And on the other hand, the European public, the elite of the Euro-Atlantic community should think about who, what sort of not really adequate people and forces they entrust their fate, the fate of their cities and the fate of their children. Brandishing nuclear weapons like a baton, even in word, is the very last thing NATO is capable of.