Are European Countries Prepared to Go Nuclear Amid Trump and Putin’s Influence?

Credits: Axios

Joshua Keating, a senior correspondent at Vox specializing in foreign policy and world news, focuses on the future of international conflict. He authored the 2018 book “Invisible Countries: Journeys to the Edge of Nationhood,” which explores border conflicts, unrecognized countries, and changes to the world map.

During the height of the Cold War in 1961, French President Charles de Gaulle famously questioned the value of American security guarantees, challenging then-President John F. Kennedy about whether the US would truly be willing to “trade New York for Paris” in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

This skepticism led France, under de Gaulle’s leadership, to develop its independent nuclear deterrent, which remains in place today. Recently, de Gaulle’s question has taken on renewed relevance.

Putin (Credits: Al Jazeera)

Following French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion of European NATO members deploying ground troops in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned Western leaders about Russia’s ability to target their territories with weapons, warning of the “destruction of civilization.” This warning highlighted that European leaders can no longer ignore the nuclear threat.

Due to the resurgent threat from Russia and uncertainties about America’s security guarantees, particularly with the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House, nuclear deterrence has reemerged as a significant issue.

Some European leaders are openly discussing whether their countries should develop independent nuclear deterrents, distinct from the US.

Leaders in Poland, situated at the front line of the NATO-Russia conflict, have proposed hosting NATO nuclear weapons on their soil.

Manfred Weber, a prominent German politician leading the center-right European People’s Party, the largest grouping in the EU parliament, has advocated for Europe to establish its own nuclear deterrence.

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

While the concept of a “Euronuke” is not new, the renewed serious discussion around it reflects Europe’s existential anxieties in the era of Putin and Trump.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.