EPP leader Manfred Weber says Europeans must be ready for war with Russia

German MEP Manfred Weber says EU must prepare nuclear deterrent even without support from a Trump-led America

EPP leader Manfred Weber
EPP leader Manfred Weber

Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), has said Europeans must prepare for war without the support of the United States, and build its own nuclear deterrent against Russia.

In an interview to the Brussels newspaper Politico, Weber predicted that the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House would leave the EU to go it alone in a challenge from Russian president Vladimir Putin: he called both leaders as “the two who set the framework” for 2024.

Trump is widely expected to be the Republican presidential contender after wins in Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses.

“Regardless of who is elected in America, Europe must be able to stand on its own in terms of foreign policy and be able to defend itself independently,” Weber said, adding that even despite NATO membership, Europe must be able to defend itself.

“We have to be honest with people,” he argued. “We should not hide the reality of the threat situation in the face of Putin in order to somehow create the feeling that things won’t be so bad.”

NATO currently relies heavily on U.S. nuclear warheads, deployed on six military air bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. Weber said even the EU must have its own nuclear deterrence.

“Europe must build deterrence, we must be able to deter and defend ourselves,” he said. “We all know that when push comes to shove, the nuclear option is the really decisive one,” he told Politico.

The only EU country with a significant amount of warheads is France, with 300 nuclear warheads. French President Emmanuel Macron floated the idea of a French-led European nuclear deterrent in 2020, when he called for a “strategic dialogue” on “the role of France’s nuclear deterrent in [Europe’s] collective security.” Germany never took up that offer.

According to Weber, it’s now time to bring back that idea of internationalizing the “force de frappe.”

“I would like to see the European dimension of nuclear defence as a long-term goal... But as long as this is not realistic, we should take up Macron’s offer and think now about how France’s nuclear armament can also be embedded in European structures.”

The other European nuclear power is the UK, which is now out of the EU, with 260 warheads. Weber said the EU should also open a constructive dialogue with the British.

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