Poland ready to host Nato nuclear weapons to deter Russia

Move will send 'very strong message' to Vladimir Putin, military expert says

A Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile at Plesetsk testing field, Russia. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Poland is willing to station nuclear weapons of Nato allies on its territory after Russia reinforced its armaments in Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, the country's President said on Monday.

The move would send a “very strong message” to prevent a Russian invasion, a military expert told The National.

Poland, a Nato member and a staunch supporter of Ukraine, shares a border with both the Kaliningrad exclave and Belarus, Moscow's ally.

“If there were a decision by our allies to deploy nuclear weapons … on our territory in order to strengthen the security of Nato's eastern flank, we are ready,” President Andrzej Duda told Fakt.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Poland has considerably increased its inventory of conventional weapons, buying hundreds of tanks and artillery, mostly from South Korea,

However, the country does remain alert to the possibility of a surprise nuclear attack by Russia, especially if the weapons are stationed in Belarus, which shares a 400km border with Poland.

“From a political perspective this gives a very strong message to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and that is what Putin respects,” said retired British Army officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon.

“It's a brave gesture that will strengthen Poland's deterrence value against any Russian attack if they have nuclear weapons stationed on their territory, and if it is a quid pro quo for the Belarus position then fine.”

He said that the advanced US tactical nuclear missiles throughout Britain and Europe meant that the move was not required, but that it could still act as a strong deterrent to Russian aggression.

Discussions about nuclear co-operation between Poland and the US have been going on “for some time”, he said.

When asked whether his country may host nuclear weapons, Polish President Andrzej Duda declared Warsaw's “readiness”.

“Russia is increasingly militarising Kaliningrad. Recently it has been relocating its nuclear weapons to Belarus,” he said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who shares Mr Duda’s views on national security, said he needed to discuss the proposal urgently.

The Kremlin has said it would take steps to respond to any move to station US nuclear weapons in Poland.

“The military will, of course, analyse the situation if such plans are implemented, and in any case will do everything necessary, will take all the necessary retaliatory steps to guarantee our safety,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Updated: April 23, 2024, 7:05 AM