Russia has responded to the news that Lakenheath air base in Suffolk is being primed for the return of US nuclear weapons, by threatening to escalate its own “countermeasures” if deployment of the B61-12 to Britain goes ahead.

The comments follow last week’s report on US Air Force budget documents – revealing plans to build additional accommodation at Lakenheath for a “potential surety mission” in Britain. “Surety” is a term used by US government and military to refer to nuclear weapons safety. This follows reports last year that storage bunkers at Lakenheath were being upgraded to store the new B61-12 guided nuclear bomb.

Commenting on the revelations, which received extensive news coverage in British and international media, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told a press briefing that any deployment of US nuclear weapons to Britain would be viewed as an escalation, the TASS agency reported.
Zakharova warned that Russia would also take countermeasures to “safeguard security interests of our country and its allies.”

The comments follow Russia’s decision earlier this year to station its own nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus – with its President Alexander Lukashenko claiming in June that delivery had been completed.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“We feared that this escalation would happen and Russia has indeed responded to the latest Lakenheath developments as expected. It is threatening more of what is fast becoming a tit-for-tat nuclear escalation by Moscow and Washington. Meanwhile, recent polling has found that the majority of people in Britain don’t want US nuclear weapons back in our country. Yet the British government seems happy to have Britain firmly placed on the nuclear front line. CND calls on Rishi Sunak to say no to US nuclear weapons in Britain, and for the US and Russia to stop expanding their nuclear presence across Europe.”

Image credit: USAF / Senior Airman Koby I. Saunders