NATO Chief Says Ukraine Events May Affect European Tactical Nuclear Reductions

The head of NATO says Russia’s incursion into Ukraine may affect the prospects for nuclear arms control in Europe, which already faced political challenges.

“Of course I cannot exclude that the events we have witnessed in Crimea will also have an impact on the thinking about arms control, including nuclear policies,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Wednesday remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The alliance leader did not say whether he was referring to potential changes in NATO’s or Russia’s positions on the potential for pull-backs of tactical nuclear arms in Europe, or both.

Even before the events this month in eastern Ukraine, the increasingly frosty relationship between Moscow and Washington had dampened prospects for a new round of bilateral arms reductions that might include U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons dedicated to NATO defense.

The Kremlin has shown little interest, in particular, in redeploying or eliminating its estimated 2,000 tactical nuclear arms with ranges that can reach European soil. By contrast, the United States fields approximately one-tenth of that size non-strategic atomic arsenal in a handful of allied nations in Europe, instead relying more on NATO’s superior conventional capacity for defense.

The 28-member defense alliance at its last summit in 2012 in Chicago reaffirmed that nuclear arms were a key tool for deterring would-be aggressors. NATO nations also said they would work to “create the conditions” necessary for further cuts to the tactical nuclear arms committed to NATO.

Full article: NATO Chief Says Ukraine Events May Affect European Tactical Nuclear Reductions (Financial Post)

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