Russia has warned against potential threats due to the US nuclear presence in Europe. On Friday, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that the US has deployed about 200 nuclear bombs in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey. Earlier this week, Poland said it was also considering asking NATO for borrowing nuclear weapons from the United States under the Western alliance’s “nuclear sharing” program.
Russia modernizing its nuclear triad
Modernization of the US nuclear arsenal in Europe poses threats to Russia and reduces the threshold for using these weapons, said Mikhail Ulyanov, chief of the Russian foreign ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control. Ulyanov argued that the US was violating the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) by sharing nuclear weapons with non-nuclear states.
Last month, the US tested a new universal nuclear-capable B61-12 bomb. Washington plans to retool its nukes in Europe with these B61-12 bombs by 2020. In response, Russia is aggressively modernizing its nuclear triad. Sergei Shoigu told reporters that at present, 55% of the country’s nuclear triad is fitted with modern hardware. More than 51% of hardware for the ground-based strategic nuclear forces is “up to date.”
NATO’s expansion irks Russia
The air-based strategic nuclear force received five Tu-22M3, two Tu-160, and three Tu-95MS this year. Shoigu said two new missile cruisers, Vladimir Monomakh and Alexander Nevsky, are now in the state of “permanent readiness.” The Russian armed forces have received 35 ballistic missiles in 2015. Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country’s armed forces would get 40 new ICBMs this year.
Shoigu also pointed out the deteriorating military-political situation in the Middle-East. Shoigu said the aggressive expansion of NATO was another cause of concern for Russia. In just a few years, the number of NATO members has “increased twofold.” Earlier this week, Russia reacted angrily when NATO invited Montenegro to join the Western military alliance. NATO has significantly increased its military presence in eastern European countries to counter Russia.