Germany Explains Decision to Host U.S. Long-Range Missiles

Defense chief Boris Pistorius says the recently announced deployment will give Berlin time to develop similar weapons of its own

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has stated that hosting US long-range missiles will provide Germany with the opportunity to develop its own similar weapons.

At the conclusion of the NATO summit this week, Berlin and Washington jointly announced the deployment of US cruise missiles in Germany, commencing in 2026. Previously, the deployment of such weapons would have been prohibited under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, a Cold War-era agreement. However, Washington withdrew from this treaty in 2019.

In an interview with the Deutschlandfunk broadcaster on Thursday, Pistorius expressed relief over the US long-range missile deployment in Germany, asserting that this move would address a “serious loophole” in defense. He also expressed confidence that future US administrations would uphold the decision.

However, Pistorius emphasized that since US long-range missiles will “come to Germany only on a rotational basis,” it is “absolutely clear” that Washington expects Berlin to “invest in the development and procurement of such standoff weapons.”

According to Pistorius, the deployment “will give us the time that we need for that,” highlighting the importance of this goal for ensuring Germany’s national security.

A joint German-US statement issued by the White House disclosed that the weapons to be deployed to Germany include the SM-6 anti-air missile, boasting a range of up to 460km (290 miles), and the Tomahawk cruise missile, capable of striking targets over 2,500km away.

Furthermore, Washington announced plans to station “developmental hypersonic weapons” in Europe, which are expected to have a “significantly longer range than current land-based fires” on the continent.

In 2019, the Trump administration justified its decision to abandon the INF treaty by claiming that Russia had violated the agreement with its cruise missiles. Moscow refuted these claims, and Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the treaty’s demise would “have the gravest consequences.”

Despite the US withdrawal, Russia continued to adhere to the treaty for several years. However, earlier this month, the Kremlin announced that the country’s defense industry would resume development of intermediate and shorter range nuclear-capable missiles.

“We now know that the US is not only producing these missile systems, but has also brought them to Europe, Denmark, to use in exercises,” Putin explained at the time.

On Thursday, Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov, in a Telegram post, condemned the recently announced deployment of US long-range missiles to Germany as a “direct threat to international security and strategic stability.” He added that this move could lead to “uncontrolled escalation amid dangerously soaring Russia-NATO tensions.”