“From the Black to the Baltic Sea”: on the Possibility of Creating WMD-free Zone in Central and Eastern Europe

April 4, 2022

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said he agreed to a “neutral and nuclear-free” Ukraine. This is already a step forward. But, from the point of view of the interests of forming a new European security architecture, this is not enough. Nuclear tension prevails over Europe. In a number of non-nuclear states, from Germany to Turkey, American nuclear weapons are deployed, which are of a destabilizing nature. While maintaining the confrontation, it is impossible to exclude the appearance of Russian nuclear weapons on the territory of non-nuclear Belarus. It is in the interests of Europe, in the interests of sustainable European security, to create a “nuclear-free” corridor running from the Baltic to the Black Seas -in the region that is commonly called “Central Eastern Europe”, and I would call the edge of Western Europe, because I believe that both the Center and the East of Europe is Russia. But we can argue about the terms later. Now -about the gist. It has already been worked out by experts, first of all by the Swede Jan Pravitz. Back in 1996, warning against further expansion of NATO to the East, Pravitz wrote in the magazine of the PIR Center “Nuclear Control”:”It should be remembered that during the Cold War, most of the line dividing East and West in Europe and stretching from the Arctic to the Black Sea was not a line of direct confrontation, but passed through neutral territory, namely, the demilitarized archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic, Finland and Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. The territories of the Warsaw Pact and NATO directly touched only along a small gap in the Arctic between the Soviet Union and Norway, in Central Europe between the two Germans and between Bulgaria and Greece and Turkey in the Balkans. NATO expansion can restore and lengthen the line of direct confrontation.”And then Pravitz proposed -based on the initiative expressed by Belarus and at that time positively perceived in Ukraine -to create a nuclear–weapon-free zone “from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea”, whose geographical coverage “would include the territory of the former Warsaw Pact countries to the west of the Russian Federation and the three Baltic states -Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; the four states of the Visegrad Group –Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary; the newly independent States –Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova; as well as Romania and Bulgaria. It is also possible to consider including the former German Democratic Republic, which was part of the Warsaw Pact Organization and now is a part of the unified Germany, which no longer has nuclear weapons under the treaty [on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany] in the zone.”

Read the details here. (in Russian)

It seems to be like ancient history today. Like the last century, the romanticism of a possible solution to European problems through diplomacy… There has been no aggression against Serbia yet… and Ukraine, which had just joined the NPT and agreed to the withdrawal of Russian nuclear weapons from its territory, did not serve as a stumbling block.

But if you look more closely: this is the “history” that you can open today and use the proposed patterns for today’s solutions. Europe, which urgently needs a nuclear detente, needs to find recipes that will bring such a detente closer. The withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Europe and the formation of a nuclear-free zone from the Baltic to the Black Sea, including Ukraine, but not limited to it, is one of the recipes.

Shall we discuss it?