WASHINGTON ― NATO allies are poised to formally oppose the alliance deploying ground-based nuclear missiles in Europe, following U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting with fellow heads of state set for June 14 in Brussels, Defense News has learned.
The position, which echoes past remarks from Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is set out in a draft communiqué for release after the NATO summit, according to one U.S. Senate aide and one European official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the closely held document.
The move is seen as possible way to ease tensions with Moscow and to tee up an arms control dialogue ahead of the U.S.-Russia summit in Geneva on June 16.
The NATO discussions come amid news Moscow will again propose a moratorium on the deployment of land-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles, reported by Russian state media this week. NATO and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
NATO’s deployment of new land-based missiles in Europe is theoretical. Stoltenberg first said last year, after a meeting of the alliance’s Nuclear Planning Group, that there were no plans to do so, though he noted that some allies planned to acquire new air and missile defense systems.
After the Trump administration and NATO dismissed Russia’s proposed moratorium in 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron urged reconsideration of the moratorium.
Tim Morrison, who oversaw the nuclear portfolio on Trump’s National Security Council and is now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the last administration rejected Russia’s moratorium offer because it considered the country a dishonest partner on arms control. Morrison believes that sacrificing the option to field the weapons in Europe would deny the U.S. bargaining power at the upcoming Geneva summit.
“If this is a unilateral concession to Russia, that’s a terrible idea; and if it’s a bilateral concession, that’s not much better because you can’t trust Russia,” he said. “Why would we take an option off the table we may need in the future to respond to belligerent actions by Russia?”
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