The Wrong Move: Adding Nuclear Weapons to the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
By Lt. General Robert Gard and Greg Terryn
You may have missed it, but last month two key members of Congress asked the military to move additional U.S. nuclear weapons and dual-capable aircraft into Eastern Europe.
Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, and Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, sent a joint letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry advocating the addition of new sites in Eastern Europe for the deployment of additional U.S. nuclear weapons and dual-capable aircraft.
In their letter, the two chairmen extend a Russian statement claiming its sovereign “right” to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea to an “intention” to do so. They also assert Russian “moves to deploy nuclear-capable Iskander short-range ballistic missiles as well as nuclear-capable Backfire bombers in the illegally occupied territory [Crimea].”
There is no evidence that Russia has taken or is preparing to take any of these actions; but the letter alleges that they pose a new military threat to U.S. allies and our forces in Europe, and that the U.S. must respond “to change President [Vladimir] Putin’s calculus.”
Declared U.S. policy is to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security, not to employ them in hopes of intimidating a hostile head of state.
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