Poland has called for the EU to stockpile nuclear weapons to counter Vladimir Putin
Warsaw sensationally called for a new “nuclear Europe” complete with its own gargantuan defence force and missile armoury to help keep the Kremlin’s ambitions in check.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, widely seen as the most powerful man in eastern Europe’s biggest country, said a radical rethink of the EU’s defence policies was the only way to secure peace in the region.
Brussels has looked on alarmed as Mr Putin has become increasingly bold in his military meddling, following up the invasion of Ukraine with a campaign in Syria and constant probing of NATO defences in the Baltic.
But the suggestion that the EU should be handed nuclear weapons to counter the threat will alarm many on the continent, and is likely to receive short shrift from some European leaders.
Poland's influential Jaroslaw Kaczynski will meet Angela Merkel today
World leaders are concerned about Russia's military build up
In an interview with German media Mr Kaczynski, who is the leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, said that Europe had failed to match up to Russia’s expansion of its military.
Wondering aloud about the continent’s defence future, he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he would welcome the establishment of the EU as a “nuclear super power” to rival Russia and the US.
He argued that Europe’s "own nuclear power would have to be able to keep up with that of Russia" if it was to provide a sufficient deterrent to stop Moscow’s aggression in its tracks.
But the political heavyweight, seen as the power behind the throne of Poland’s government, admitted his plan may not be popular with other member states.
And he conceded it would require “tremendous expenditure” to get off the ground, which is an unlikely course of action given the economic malaise which has gripped the eurozone for the last decade.
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Mr Kaczynski’s remarks come after the new US President Donald Trump vowed to overhaul America’s nuclear arsenal and increase its stockpile of missiles to boost Washington’s deterrent.
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They were made in a German newspaper interview ahead of a trip to the country by Germany’s Angela Merkel today, during which the pair are expected to discuss European defence.
Both Berlin and Warsaw are keen on further EU integration of military spending and operations with the eventual aim of creating a Brussels army, something strongly opposed by Britain.
Critics have warned that an EU force would fatally undermine NATO, the alliance which has kept the peace in Europe for 50 years, by creating a competing command structure and starving it of resources.