Rejecting criticism over statements by German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on atomic deterrence vis-a-vis Russia, the German government reiterated “the need to maintain a nuclear deterrence within the framework of NATO”.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said as long as nuclear weapons are understood by some states as a means of military conflict, there is "the need to maintain a nuclear deterrence within the framework of NATO," adding: “That is also stated in the coalition agreement.”
Last Thursday, Kramp-Karrenbauer had talked about the possibility of deploying atomic arms against Russia.
He told the Berlin-based Deutschlandfunk broadcaster: “We have to make it very clear to Russia that in the end – and that is also the deterrent doctrine – we are prepared to use such means so that it has a deterrent effect beforehand and no one gets the idea to attack NATO partners.”
“That is the core idea of NATO, this alliance, and it will be adapted to the current behavior of Russia. In particular, we see not only violations of the airspace over the Baltic states, but also increasing attacks around the Black Sea,” the defense minister added.
Kramp-Karrenbauer's statements triggered a reaction from Rolf Muetzenich, head of the Social Democrats in the German parliament, who described it as “irresponsible”.
Muetzenich accused the defense minister of further turning the "escalation screw".
According to German media reports, there are around 20 US nuclear bombs stored at the Buechel airbase located in southwestern Germany in line with NATO's nuclear deterrence doctrine.