Tensions between the US and Russia are already at a near-term high in recent weeks, and look to be getting even worse amid new reports from Germany’s ZDF that the US intends to deploy new nuclear weapons to Germany and upgrade its nuclear infrastructure across Europe.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the move a “very serious step toward exacerbating tensions on the European continent,” and warned that if the US follows through on these plans Russia would carry out retaliatory countermeasures, adding more ballistic missiles to its exclave of Kaliningrad.
Kaliningrad’s location, adjacent to NATO members Lithuania and Poland, has made it a popular place for Russia to threaten retaliatory deployments, because such moves would starkly change the balance of power in Eastern Europe. During the dispute over US missile shield deployments along the Russian frontier, Russia similarly threatened to place Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad.
That’s the same thing they’re talking up today, and while they’re not going into details about numbers of variations, the fact that the current US deployment is itself nuclear in nature probably means Iskander-M ballistic missiles, capable of carrying 50 kT nuclear warheads, would be part of the deployment.
The ZDF report came simply out of publicly available US budgetary information, and publicized some deployments the administration clearly did not intend to make a matter of serious discourse. The deployments are likely to also rankle Germany itself, because the deployment of Cold War-era nuclear arms was already highly controversial, and many Germans simply want the weapons of mass destruction removed, not upgraded.