The Coronavirus is among the greatest threats the world has faced since the Second World War. However, that does not mean that others have gone away. We face the most difficult security environment for a generation. Around the world, terrorism continues, authoritarian regimes challenge liberal democracies, and we see the proliferation of nuclear weapons to countries like North Korea, as well as the continuing aggressive actions by Russia.
In recent years, Russia has invested significantly in its military capabilities, and especially in its nuclear arsenal. While NATO views its own nuclear deterrent primarily as a political tool, Russia has firmly integrated its nuclear arsenal into its military strategy. It has placed nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, just 500km from Berlin. It has threatened Allies such as Denmark, Poland and Romania with nuclear strikes. Russia also forcibly and illegally annexed part of Ukraine, a country whose borders it had previously committed to respect in return for Ukraine giving up its own nuclear protection.
In stark contrast, NATO seeks a world without nuclear weapons through effective arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. And we have made great progress in achieving this. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has reduced the number of nuclear weapons in Europe by around 90%. That is significant.
Despite Russia’s flagrant breach of the INF Treaty with the deployment of a new intermediate range missile, which can reach European capitals with little warning, NATO has made clear that we have no intention of pursuing our own land based nuclear missiles in Europe. We will maintain an effective deterrence and defence, including through our existing nuclear deterrent.
Therefore, I welcome Germany’s clear commitment to NATO and our nuclear deterrent.
Read the full press release here.