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Policy brief | 3 September 2019

Outlines for future conventional arms control in Europe: A sub-regional regime in the Baltics

Image of Evgeny Buzhinskiy

Evgeny Buzhinskiy |Lieutenant-General (Retired), Chairman of the Executive Board of PIR Center

Image of Oleg Shakirov

Oleg Shakirov |Researcher and PhD student at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Baltics Conventional Arms Control Europe NATO Russia-West Relations Euro-Atlantic Security ELN YGLN

This new ELN policy brief looks at ways to reduce the risk of military confrontation between Russia and NATO, namely in the Baltic region. The authors argue that steps to ensure military stability are not only possible, but are also mutually beneficial.

In general, when it comes to European security, both Russia and NATO countries express concerns about the possible quick build-up of forces by the other side. These risks are perceived by both sides to be particularly high in the Baltic region.

Russia considers the movement of NATO military infrastructure to its borders as one of the main external military dangers. On the NATO side, states in the Baltic region have similar concerns about the possibility of Russia’s rapid movement of forces into the region. With this in mind, it is likely that Russia and the NATO countries concerned might be interested in a conventional arms control regime that could help prevent a destabilising build-up of strength along the contact line between Russia and NATO.

The authors propose an arrangement to help prevent such destabilising build-ups of forces and to enhance security in the maritime domain of the Baltic region. Both sides would commit to lowering considerably the intensity of military activity in the region, strictly limiting movements of forces and assets towards the line of contact between Russia and NATO. Implementation of this regime would be followed by further stabilising measures.

The authors also propose a framework of confidence- and security-building measures to manage naval activity in the Baltic Sea, going beyond incident prevention. These would include prior notification of certain naval activities.

The objective of these steps would be to create a security environment in the Baltic region based on cooperation and mutual confidence. Going forward, the authors note that due consideration could be given to the possible extension of such measures to other regions of Europe where tensions are high.


Read the full policy brief here (English) 


The opinions articulated above also do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address pressing foreign, defence, and security challenge.