By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Russia has warned that the accelerated deployment of modernized U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe next month could lower the “nuclear threshold” for an outbreak of atomic warfare.
Reports monitored by Worthy News show that the United States told a closed meeting of the NATO military alliance that it would speed up the European deployment of a modernized version of the B61 nuclear bomb, the B61-12.
There are about 100 of these B61 devices at bases in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands, which will be replaced by B61-12 nuclear bombs in December, months earlier than planned, several sources said.
However, Moscow has condemned the move at a time of heightened East-West tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We cannot ignore the plans to modernize nuclear weapons, those free-fall bombs that are in Europe,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in published remarks.
He noted that the “United States is modernizing them, increasing their accuracy and reducing the power of the nuclear charge, that is, they turn these weapons into ‘battlefield weapons,’ thereby reducing the nuclear threshold.”
Yet, the Pentagon said the modernization had “been underway for years.”
The new B61-12 air-dropped gravity bomb placed in European NATO bases has a lower nuclear yield than earlier versions, according to sources familiar with the deployment.
Russia earlier announced it would deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to neighboring Belarus in the coming months.
Separately Moscow warned that Sweden and Finland joining NATO would result in Moscow no longer keeping its commitments not to deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea region.
Officials in the Baltic state of Lithuania claim that Russia already keeps nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.
Nuclear tensions have risen between the U.S. and Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin made veiled nuclear threats following setbacks on the Ukrainian battlefield.
U.S. President Joe Biden warned recently that the world is facing its greatest nuclear threat — the prospect of nuclear “Armageddon” — since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
The use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine could dramatically increase the death toll in a war that has already resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides.
The ongoing armed conflict also caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War with more than 8 million people being displaced within the country alone, according to the United Nations. Nearly 7.8 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe so far, with many more expected to flee the wartorn nation.