USA wants to station long-range weapons in Germany


Lerato Khumalo

Memories of the Cold War are awakened: US weapons that can reach Moscow will soon be in Germany again. A surprising step and a clear message to Putin.

For the first time since the Cold War, the USA wants to station weapons systems in Germany that can reach as far as Russia. From 2026, Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of well over 2,000 kilometers, SM-6 anti-aircraft missiles and newly developed supersonic weapons will provide better protection for NATO allies in Europe. The White House and the German government announced this on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington.

The systems mentioned have a “significantly greater range than current land-based systems in Europe,” it said in a joint statement. They will initially be stationed in Germany temporarily, later permanently.

The planned deployment will begin more than a year after the US presidential election next November. The decision could therefore be reversed if Republican Donald Trump wins the election. During his term in office from 2017 to 2021, Trump initiated a reduction in the US military presence in Germany, which was later stopped under current President Joe Biden. Since the Russian attack on Ukraine, Biden has even increased the US troop presence in Germany and Europe again.

Biden repeatedly assures that the United States is unwavering in its commitments to the military alliance and will defend every inch of NATO territory. Trump, on the other hand, even openly threatened to withdraw the United States from NATO during his term in office.

Cruise missiles such as the German Taurus weapon system are capable of penetrating deep into enemy territory at low altitudes and destroying important targets. These can include command posts, bunkers and radar systems. The Tomahawk is used from ships or submarines, while the Taurus is launched from aircraft.

The decision to station the long-range weapons in Germany came as a surprise. NATO states had previously promised Ukraine further support. The transfer of F-16 fighter jets is already underway, said the USA, the Netherlands and Denmark. This means that the aircraft could be deployed in the defensive battle against Russia this summer.

The alliance assures Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia, that it can no longer be stopped on its way to joining the defense alliance. In the text of the final declaration of the summit, the path to membership is described as irreversible, as the German Press Agency learned after negotiations on the document.

The text reiterates that a formal invitation to join can only be issued if all allies agree and all conditions for accession are met. These include reforms in the areas of democracy, the economy and the security sector.

Scholz (SPD) promised Ukraine further help and described the support provided to the country with air defense systems as a “big step”. “In my view, this process is not complete,” said Scholz before a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky thanked Scholz for the help: “Thank you, Olaf, for the air defense.”

At the start of the NATO summit on Tuesday, the USA, Germany and other allies promised Ukraine further support to defend against Russian air attacks, including new Patriot systems. The country already has four, three of them from Germany.

More are now to follow: from the USA, Romania and the Netherlands. The Romanians and Dutch had already promised this in advance. The NATO partners emphasized that further commitments should follow in the course of the year.

Scholz assured the allies that Germany would live up to its responsibility as Europe’s largest economy, even in difficult times. “This gives us a very special responsibility,” he said. “And I can say that very clearly: We will, I will live up to this responsibility.”

The text of the final declaration assures Ukraine that it will receive military aid worth at least 40 billion euros again within the next year. This is the amount that was recently mobilized.

The commitment falls far short of what the outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had originally demanded. Stoltenberg wanted a multi-year commitment to show Russian President Vladimir Putin that he cannot rely on the West’s diminishing commitment. The USA, among others, did not want to make a long-term commitment.