Germany isn’t blind, but is behaving blind by willingly looking the other way. If it ever had to choose sides, it would likely do so in Russia’s favor. The anti-American sentiment across Europe rising plus NATOs current inability to handle war with Russia, as well as recognizing the need to be able to protect themselves, is why you see the foundations for an EU Army being built. America isn’t even prepared and has no defense whatsoever against a Russian nuclear attack.
Washington is once again talking about stationing nuclear warheads in Europe. Russia, too, is turning up the rhetoric. Europeans are concerned about becoming caught in the middle of a new Cold War.
Berlin is concerned that Europe could once again become the setting of a new East-West confrontation — and that Germany might once again become a deployment zone. A source in the Defense Ministry suggested that “more (military) equipment may once again be stockpiled in Germany.” Washington plans to station tanks, weapons and heavy equipment for 5,000 soldiers in Germany and the eastern NATO countries. US President Barack Obama hopes that doing so will soothe the fears of the Baltic States and countries in Eastern Europe, which, since the Ukraine crisis, are once again fearful of Russian aggression. He also hopes to quiet his critics in US Congress.
For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, this prospect is not a pleasant one. She shies away from publicly criticizing her American allies, but Merkel is loathe to do anything that might heat up the conflict with Moscow. Furthermore, a new debate on rearmament would hardly be winnable on a domestic front. The chancellor would potentially look like a puppet of the United States, one who not only allows herself to be spied on, but who also stands by as her carefully established link to Putin is damaged.
Avoiding Open Disagreement
Moscow sees the American plans as a further proof that Washington intends to expand its military sphere of influence in Europe. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s spokesman has said that “Washington and its partners are clearly aiming for the final break-up of the NATO-Russia Founding Act.”
Berlin, however, does not want to abandon the treaty. Consistent with the treaty, the German government has fundamentally ruled out the “substantial” or “permanent” stationing of NATO troops in the former Eastern Bloc. That wording was chosen to assuage Russian concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion.
The US plans appear designed with an eye toward avoiding an open disagreement. That is why Washington only intends to send a few companies to the border nations, say sources at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The larger part of the brigade will be initially stationed in Grafenwöhr, in the German region of Upper Palatinate. The same is apparently true of the heavy weaponry. The Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, estimates that it will include approximately 100 battle tanks. The German Defense Ministry believes that US Defense Minister Ashton Carter will be discussing the details with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen during his visit on Monday.
At issue are longer just conventional weapons, but also nuclear arms as well. Moscow is working on modernizing its nuclear arsenal, and has issued some wild threats. A high-ranking official in the Russian Foreign Ministry spoke in March about possibly stationing nuclear weapons in Crimea. And the Americans, too, are considering expanding their nuclear arsenal in Europe. For some time now, Washington has been thinking about positioning nuclear-equipped cruise missiles in Europe, as it did in 1979 during the NATO Double-Track decision that led the trans-Atlantic alliance into the worst crisis in its history.
The American logic is as follows: For some time now, Washington has been accusing Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The legendary agreement, which was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, signaled the end of the Cold War. In the agreement, both superpowers agreed to scrap all land-based intermediate-range atomic weapons and to renounce them in the future. Now Washington believes this treaty has been violated, and is threatening to react. NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove has already announced that the introduction of a weapon that violates the INF Treaty “can’t go unanswered.”
The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, currently does “not see any substantial change to the danger” posed by Russia. The nuclear threats by Moscow — Putin announced his intention to acquire 40 intercontinental missiles — were described by BND Vice-President Guido Müller, in a secret meeting in front of select lawmakers, as little more than a “propaganda show.”
According to Müller, the refurbishment plans are well known. Since a speech by Putin at the end of 2014, the upgrade has been seen as a fait accompli by the German intelligence agency. But analysts at the BND believe the chances of success are not high: Purely from a technical standpoint, the modernization of the 40 nuclear warheads in such a short period of time is hardly possible, the BND vice-president said. Russia experts at the BND describe it as “passive aggressive behavior.” What’s important to Putin is its effect on his opponent, not the degree to which his statements are true.
‘A Great Deal of Concern’
For the German government, the prospect of nuclear rearmament would be a nightmare. In the early 1980s, millions of people in Germany, as well as in Italy and the Netherlands, took to the streets because they feared a nuclear war in Europe. As an answer to the Soviet SS-20 nuclear missiles, the Western allies had provided Moscow with a proposal: They were prepared to negotiate about the disarmament of these types of systems, but if the Soviet side wasn’t prepared to compromise, the West would station about 600 nuclear missiles on its side. And that’s exactly what happened.
Full article: Cold War Resurgent: US Nukes Could Soon Return to Europe (Spiegel Online)