- We understand that Russia is a European power, but urge Moscow to make a commitment to the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from areas adjacent to European Union member states. We are thinking of areas like the Kaliningrad region and the Kola Peninsula, where there are still substantial numbers of these weapons, writes Sweden’s Carl Bildt and Poland’s Radek Sikorski in an up-ed in the New York Times.
They suggest such a withdrawal could be accompanied by the destruction of relevant storage facilities.
On the Kola Peninsula, storage facilities for naval tactical nuclear weapons exist. The actual numbers of such nuclear warheads are held secret and not accounted for in international treaties. The START treaty and the soon-to-come follow-up treaty only count strategic nuclear weapons.
In October last year, BarentsObserver was driving together with Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on the road that is passing near many of the Russian Northern fleet’s naval bases, not far from the site where tactical nuclear weapons are stored on the Kola Peninsula. The bus ride started in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes and continued to Murmansk, where Carl Bildt met his colleagues in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
The existence of tactical nuclear warheads on the Kola Peninsula that are not accounted for in international treaties were one of the issues in talk between BarentsObserver and the Swedish Foreign Minister.
Carl Bildt refers in his up-ed in the New York Times to a recent report by the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament that indicates that Russia holds around 2000 tactical warheads, the vast majority in the western part of the country.