Green politician Joschka Fischer cited the need to deter Russia and added that the bloc should also invest in air defenses Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. © Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images

The European Union needs to get its own nuclear arsenal to better deter Russia, a former Foreign Minister of Germany, Joschka Fischer, has argued. The now-retired official has also warned that the bloc should be able to stick up for itself should its relations with the US cool.

Last month, Czech President Petr Pavel said that NATO considers Moscow to be the biggest threat, with the US-led military bloc preparing for a major conflict. Top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin have, in turn, repeatedly stressed that they see NATO’s eastward expansion as encroaching on the country’s security.

Joschka Fischer insisted in an interview with Die Zeit, published on Sunday, that “we must restore our deterrence capability” in light of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. He also said that Europe cannot afford to let Moscow prevail in Ukraine, with the current conflict being of “crucial importance” for the continent’s future.

Fischer, who served as foreign minister and vice chancellor from 1998 to 2005, also played a key role in founding the German Green Party. In 1999, when he was Berlin’s top diplomat and the Green party leader, he supported NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. In 2011, he backed German troops’ intervention in Afghanistan.

No chance for renewal of nuclear accord with US – Moscow No chance for renewal of nuclear accord with US – Moscow

When asked by Die Zeit if he thought that Germany should acquire nuclear weapons, the former politician replied in the negative, saying that it should be the EU instead. He also suggested that France and Britain’s nuclear arsenals were no longer enough to ensure European security.

When the interviewer reminded Fischer that he and his party strongly opposed nuclear weapons back in the 1980s, the former minister claimed that the “world has changed” since. He went on to note that while he hopes that US-EU relations will remain as close as they are now, this could change, for instance if former President Donald Trump is re-elected next year.

Aside from nuclear deterrence, Europe should place particular emphasis on beefing up its air defenses, Fischer told Die Zeit.

Speaking late last month, Czech President Pavel, who served as Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee between 2015 and 2018, said that “all armies are preparing for the possibility of a high-intensity conflict” in Europe.

In late October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that NATO’s nuclear-sharing scheme, under which part of the US nuclear arsenal is stationed outside the country, creates “increased strategic risks.” The diplomat went on to stress that these developments forced Moscow to “resort to compensatory measures amid the general increase of threats posed by NATO.”

Dozens of US nuclear bombs are reportedly stored in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Türkiye.

Russian officials have repeatedly said the country has no plans to attack NATO. Moscow, at the same time, has for years regarded the bloc’s creeping expansion toward its borders as a major threat. President Putin cited Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO membership as one of the key reasons for launching the military operation against Kiev in February 2022. (RT)