France warns against placing nukes in Poland

The defense minister’s remarks came after President Duda signaled Warsaw’s willingness to host US nuclear weapons

A potential deployment of US nuclear weapons to Poland would breach key arms control accords between NATO and Russia, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu warned on Thursday. Polish President Andrzej Duda said earlier this week that his country was willing to host such weapons if Washington supported the idea.

Under NATO’s nuclear sharing program the US maintains some of its weapons of mass destruction in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye.

Last year, Russia placed its own tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, with President Vladimir Putin citing the two countries’ strategic alliance as well as increased NATO military activity close to Belarusian and Russian territory. The president pointed out at the time that Washington has for decades deployed its own nuclear weapons in allied nations.

In an interview with Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, published on Wednesday, Lecornu pointed out that a hypothetical deployment of US nuclear weapons to Poland would first require thorough discussions between NATO member states, as it “would undermine the NATO-Russia founding act.”

The minister also noted that France, the sole nuclear power within the European Union, does not participate in NATO’s nuclear planning group. Lecornu explained that Paris is “completely autonomous in our planning and in our deterrence system.”

On Thursday, Polish President Duda told reporters that he had invited Prime Minister Tusk for a meeting on May 1 to discuss their apparent divergence of opinion on the issue of US nuclear weapons.

In an interview with the Polish daily Fakt on Monday, President Duda revealed that such a development “has been a topic of Polish-American talks for some time.” The head of state – whose powers do not exceed those of the prime minister under Poland’s parliamentary system – added that he had “declared our readiness” in case “our allies decide to deploy nuclear weapons… on our territory.”

Commenting on President Duda’s remarks, Prime Minister Tusk, who represents a rival political force, stated that the president’s words warrant clarification as “this idea is very massive.”

The premier emphasized that at present Warsaw has no specific plans to host foreign weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS news agency on Thursday that should Warsaw and Washington go ahead with such “deeply destabilizing” and “threatening” arrangements, the sites hosting American nuclear weapons would “definitely become targets” for the Russian military.

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