The deputy head of the US-led bloc says that hosting nuclear weapons is a sovereign matter to be decided by NATO members.
The Deputy Secretary-General Camille Grand said that the NATO is not inclined to give Russia any security guarantees on the deployment of nuclear weapons on the territories of its two newest prospective members, Finland and Sweden.
Every country is free to deploy or not to deploy such weapons in the nuclear field. In an interview released on Tuesday, a NATO official told Swiss broadcaster RTS that they were not talking about setting up some principle restrictions on the possible actions of the alliance.
Despite the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, longtime neutral countries, Finland and Sweden have scrambled to join NATO. Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Grand said that the possible accession of Ukraine to the bloc is currently not on the agenda, and that the ongoing conflict must be resolved before Kiev can decide how they want to position themselves in the European security architecture. Finland and Sweden, despite being neutral, have maintained close ties and military cooperation with the US-led bloc for decades. They are two very close partners who have significant military capabilities. Grand said they bring knowledge of the Baltic Seas and the Nordic Seas.
The potential accession of the two nations to the bloc has fallen into a deadlock as Turkey, a major NATO country, opposes their membership bid. Ankara accused the two countries of being guesthouses for terrorist organizations for hosting members of outlawed Kurdish groups. Turkey wants Helsinki and Stockholm to crack down on the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK and other groups it considers terrorists, as well as surrender some suspects to Ankara. Ankara wants the two countries to lift restrictions on arms trade with Turkey, among other demands.
Grand hopes that the differences between Turkey and the two prospective member states will be resolved before the upcoming NATO summit in June.
We are hopeful that the differences will be settled in time for the summit. Grand stated that it is important to take Turkey's concerns into account.