A Russian arms control official said Thursday that a new missile crisis is “unavoidable” without the US and Russia reaching new agreements on arms control.
Specifically, Russia is seeking a moratorium on the deployment of short and medium-range missiles in Europe that were previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the US withdrew from in 2019.
The proposed INF ban was part of the security proposals Russia presented to the US last month. The US responded on Wednesday, and while Washington rejected Moscow’s demands for a halt to NATO expansion, both sides have said there’s room for dialogue on arms control.
“We continue to insist it is a priority to reach a principled understanding that the problems in this area must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, new ‘missile crises’ are unavoidable,” Vladimir Yermakov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s arms control department, told Tass.
Yermakov also said that Moscow proposed for all US nuclear weapons in NATO countries to be returned to US territory. He said there are currently about 200 US B61 nuclear bombs in five non-nuclear NATO states, giving the alliance the ability to rapidly carry out a nuclear strike against Russia.
“We insist that NATO’s ‘joint nuclear missions’ should be stopped immediately, all the American nuclear weapons be returned to US national territory and the infrastructure that allows their rapid deployment should be eliminated,” he said.
It’s unlikely the US is willing to bring its nuclear weapons out of Europe. There was recent speculation that the new German government wouldn’t want to continue hosting US nukes. In response to the rumors, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg threatened to move the nuclear bombs further east if Berlin didn’t want them. But the German coalition agreed to keep hosting the weapons.