NATO can’t depend on US protection forever, a prominent member of Chancellor Scholz’s party has said
US allies in Europe should not have to keep relying on Washington for a nuclear deterrent, the German ruling party’s top candidate for the upcoming European Parliament election said on Tuesday.
Katarina Barley is the leading MEP from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). She was asked to comment on recent remarks by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump that Washington should not defend NATO allies who fail to meet their payment targets.
“In view of Donald Trump’s recent statements, we can no longer rely on” the US providing European NATO members with its nuclear umbrella, Barley told the German daily Tagesspiegel. A “European bomb” could become a step on the way to a ‘European army,’ she added.
If the US stops supplying Ukraine with weapons, the EU will “have to take on this responsibility” because “We must take [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s threats seriously and behave accordingly.” She accused the Russian president of “publicly questioning the territorial integrity of Poland and Lithuania.”
Barley’s remarks were condemned by Martin Schirdewan, the leading EP candidate of Die Linke (The Left). He told AFP that the appropriate answer to “nonsense” coming from Trump was not nuclear proliferation but de-escalation.
“It would be more sensible to have an EU that is committed to a policy of reconciliation, disarmament and social justice across borders,” Schirdewan said, accusing the SPD of “saber-rattling.”
“More atomic bombs will not make the world safer,” Schirdewan added, pointing out the current global arsenal can destroy the planet 50 times over. Instead of dreaming about nuclear weapons, the SPD should push Germany to “finally sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” said the leader of Die Linke.
Both the US and the EU have sent tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine over the past two years, but have struggled to keep up with Kiev’s demands. Trump’s comments were made at an election rally, addressing the failure of a dozen NATO members to spend the agreed-upon 2% of GDP on their militaries.
One US commentator has called for giving nuclear weapons to Poland in order to “Trump-proof” Washington’s policy in Europe. Warsaw has yet to officially comment on the idea.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned the West that any direct confrontation with Russia would quickly go nuclear, urging US and EU leaders to be honest with their people about this instead of “treating them like brainless idiots.”