The demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the beginning of a new era in international politics. With the fall of the Soviet empire, the once biggest threat to the West's security now disappeared after more than four decades of bipolar confrontation. Yet, also entirely novel security risks arose stemming from the collapse of the world's largest nuclear superpower. On the ruins of the former Soviet Union a number of newly independent states emerged, with post-Soviet Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, apart from Russia, having nuclear weapons deployed on their territories. This paper provides an overview of the foreign and security policy of post-Soviet Belarus in the early years of independence. In this context, it particularly focuses on the shaping of attitudes this new East European nation displayed towards the Soviet nuclear weapons legacy. The main factors underlying the decision of independent Belarus to renounce the nuclear option, commit to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and disarm are discussed.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.