Tension is rising globally: NATO threatens Russia and China with its nuclear arsenal

George Marinescu
English Section / 18 iunie

Tension is rising globally: NATO threatens Russia and China with its nuclear arsenal

Versiunea în limba română

Statements over the past two years by Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the use of the nuclear arsenal as the last weapon to defend the territory of the Russian Federation found their counterpart in yesterday's statement by Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, who said that there are discussions between the members military alliance about removing nuclear missiles from storage and deploying them in multiple locations to act as a deterrent to any escalation of the conflict in Ukraine by Russia and tensions over Taiwan by China.

Jens Stoltenberg said, quoted by British media and quoted by Reuters: "I will not go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stockpiled, but we have to consult on these issues. That's exactly what we do. The goal of NATO is, of course, a world without nuclear weapons, but as long as there are nuclear weapons, we will remain a nuclear alliance, because a world in which Russia, China and North Korea have nuclear weapons and NATO does not is a more dangerous world".

Stoltenberg's statement came after the head of the National Security Council in Kiev said that Vladimir Putin could ask for the use of a tactical nuclear weapon if the Russian army is defeated in Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg also said that the authorities in Beijing are investing heavily in modern weaponry, including the nuclear arsenal, which would increase to 1,000 missiles by 2030.

"And that means that in the not-too-distant future, NATO may face something it has never faced before, namely two potential nuclear adversaries - China and Russia, of course this has consequences. That is why the US is modernizing its gravity bombs for the nuclear warheads they have in Europe, and the European allies are modernizing the planes that will be dedicated to NATO's nuclear mission", concluded Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's statement that the military alliance could deploy more nuclear weapons around the world amid a growing threat from Russia and China drew a backlash from Kremlin officials, who described it as a escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

Dmitri Peskov, spokesman for the Presidency of the Russian Federation, said, quoted by the TASS agency: "This is nothing but an escalation of the current conflict. Unlike Western officials, whenever President Putin talks about the possible use of the nuclear arsenal, he does so by actually answering questions from Russian or foreign reporters, not on his own initiative as Jens Stoltenberg did."

The Russian official also said that the NATO Secretary General's statement contradicts the document issued following last weekend's conference on the conditions for peace in Ukraine, adopted by 80 of the 93 participating states, the text of which, in Peslov's opinion, is inadmissible for the authorities of at the Kremlin.

According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), nuclear powers are increasingly developing their arsenals as the geopolitical situation deteriorates,

The cited document states: "The nine nuclear-weapon states - the United States of America, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Israel - have continued to modernize their nuclear arsenals and deployed in 2023 new nuclear systems or more nuclear-capable weapon systems".

SIPRI's main finding is that the number and types of weapons are increasing as countries increasingly rely on nuclear deterrence. According to data from the report, in January 2024 there were approximately 12,121 nuclear warheads in the world, of which 9,585 were on alert, and of these 3,904 were deployed on missiles or aircraft, representing a 60% increase from the January report 2023. Approximately 2,100 deployed warheads were on high alert for ballistic missiles. According to SIPRI, almost all of the warheads belonged to Russia or the United States, but China is believed to have put some of them on high alert for the first time.

India, Pakistan and North Korea, in turn, are looking for a way to put more warheads on ballistic missiles, while Britain, China, Russia, the United States and France already have such capabilities, according to SIPRI experts.

The British newspaper The Telegraph reported yesterday that the UK has deployed about 40 of its 225 nuclear warheads, while the US has 1,700 warheads (and another 3,700 in reserve). At the same time, British journalists pointed out that France "does not make its atomic arsenal available alliance because of a long-standing decision to maintain its own independence over the nuclear deterrent system."

The Prime Minister of Hungary ignites the spirits: NATO will build new military bases in Poland, Slovakia and Romania

In this tense global context, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that NATO plans to establish new military bases in Poland, Romania and Slovakia as part of a mission to coordinate arms deliveries to Ukraine.

Viktor Orban said on a radio station, quoted by the Sarajevo Times: "The alliance wants to start a so-called NATO mission in Ukraine. This means that NATO will coordinate the transfer of weapons that are delivered to Ukraine." He specified that it is about three large military bases from which weapons will be transferred to Ukraine, from the members of the Alliance. The Hungarian prime minister stated that Russia would consider the three bases a direct threat and that they would become legitimate military targets for the Russian armed forces.

Viktor Orban said that Hungary would stay out of this initiative and stated: "Because we are close to the conflict zone, we have to take measures for our security. Hungary will neither allow the use of its territory nor assist in the delivery of arms. In our region, three countries are heading straight for war. While the Poles and Romanians advance quickly, the Slovaks are more reserved. We will firmly stay out of these plans. Hungary's position on this matter is that a mistake is being made. Even if all the other 31 members of NATO say we are alone on this issue, we will continue to say that this war is unnecessary and that the situation cannot be resolved on the battlefield."

Viktor Orban's statement, if it refers to the new military base from Mihail Kogălniceanu, is half wrong, because the documents necessary for its construction and the decision in this regard were taken by the Romanian Government in 2020, i.e. two years before the illegal launch by the Russian Federation of the war in Ukraine

Despite Viktor Orban's statements, it seems that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently made a decision in favor of Hungary which, in the long term, could not remain without consequences. Since the United States and Germany still do not want to invite Ukraine to officially join the Atlantic Alliance, Stoltenberg has proposed, in the meantime, the integration into NATO of part of the missions of the Contact Group for the defense of Ukraine. Created in April 2022, this US-led structure prepares, coordinates and delivers to Ukraine all the weapons that the West provides to this war-torn country. To integrate these services within NATO, consensus among allies is needed. Only one opposes this proposal: Hungary.

In order to obtain the support of Budapest, Jens Stoltenberg negotiated a derogation, and on June 13 he announced, after a meeting with Viktor Orban, that an "agreement on the conditions of Hungary's non-participation in NATO support for Ukraine" had been reached. "At the same time," Stoltenberg said, "the prime minister has assured me that Hungary will not oppose these efforts, thus allowing other allies to move forward."

Hungary "cannot change the decisions of the other 31 member states", the head of the Hungarian government said, but Budapest "will not contribute financially and will not send a single man to this war". Specifically, Hungary will not finance the coordination program, currently established in Germany, and no Hungarian personnel from NATO can be assigned to it.

For some diplomats, who want to ensure the success of the next summit in Washington, Stoltenberg has found the ideal mode of operation to unlock the situation with Hungary. As Julianne Smith, the US ambassador to NATO, states, "not all Alliance members always participate in all NATO activities or missions."

For other diplomats, however, introducing a waiver and accepting the fact that one of the allies is dissociating itself from political support for Ukraine raises questions. Not only did we "find out about this waiver from the press," protested one diplomat, but, moreover, "this authorizes Hungary to make ever-greater claims."

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