Estonia: Sven Sakkov

DGAP asked leading European experts on foreign policy about Germany’s role in providing nuclear deterrence in Europe. These experts, who each represent an EU member or a key partner, responded to three open-ended questions. You can read the introduction to this assessment and download the whole report by clicking here.

Question 1

How does your government view the importance of nuclear deterrence and NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement for its own security and European security?

NATO's nuclear alliance is a given

Sven Sakkov, International Centre for Defense and Security, Estonia

Estonia’s National Security Concept stipulates that NATO’s ultimate security guarantee is its nuclear deterrent. This must be credible and available in the Alliance’s European territory. The fact that NATO was, is and remains a nuclear alliance is politically uncontroversial in Estonia.


Question 2

In the view of your government: What difference does Germany’s participation in nuclear sharing make? (Why) is Germany important in nuclear sharing?

German withdrawal would undermine its reputation as a responsible NATO ally

Sven Sakkov, International Centre for Defense and Security, Estonia

Germany is the biggest country in the European part of NATO, a very wealthy country with formidable armed forces. In Estonian political circles Germany is considered to be too much of an advocate of Russia and not enough of an advocate of Central-Eastern European security. German participation in NATO’s nuclear sharing has demonstrated that when it comes to the life-and-death issues and Article 5, Germany is a responsible NATO ally. By its potential withdrawal Germany would undermine that notion.


Question 3

What would be the plausible/probable effects within NATO and for European security, if Germany were to leave nuclear sharing?

Credible deterrence requires unity

Sven Sakkov, International Centre for Defense and Security, Estonia

According to the National Security Concept, the credibility and political impact of NATO’s deterrence is largely determined by the Alliance’s unity and performance, as well as its capabilities and available resources. Germany leaving the nuclear sharing arrangement would have a detrimental effect on the cohesion of the Alliance. There will inevitably be a question of moving US B61 nuclear bombs from Germany to Poland and replacing Germany in a sharing role with Poland. Also there is bound to be public opposition to the hosting of nuclear weapons. Outside the expert community the fact that several European countries are hosting B61s and are party to nuclear sharing is not very well known. German political discussions will change that. The only country benefiting from these fissures will be the Russian Federation. 


About the author

Director, International Centre for Defense and Security (ICDS)

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