The ecological situation in certain east European countries, particularly those previously part of the Soviet Union, poses grave problems today, partly resulting from the military legacy left behind by the Soviet army.
The military waste left over from the Soviet era in countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova is a cause for concern. According to an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) report, in Ukraine alone, some 2.5 million tonnes of arms, munitions and military waste are lying unclaimed, including four sites where radioactive residues have been buried. Between 5% and 10% of the military depots and dumps in the country are said to require major repair work. In Belarus, military sites occupied some 300 000 hectares in the Soviet era, of which 200 000 hectares is forest land, and the liquidation of armaments and munitions left behind, including toxic and radioactive materials, is said by the report to constitute the country’s most serious environmental problem. The local authorities now face the challenge of removing pollution from ground soiled by oil or areas subject to heavy radiation. In Moldova the military legacy comprises some 20 000 tonnes of untransportable arms and munitions, all stored in Transnistria. Were they to explode, the result would be a disaster in both ecological and human terms.
The Assembly invites the governments of all the Council of Europe member states to work in close collaboration with the countries directly affected to find appropriate, technically viable and politically acceptable solutions to the problem posed to the environment by military waste, in particular: