A new global nuclear arms race may soon begin, and the world will have Putin to thank.
In 1994, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Kingdom entered into an agreement to remove former Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine, later known as the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine agreed to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In the history of nuclear weapons, only four states have ever walked away from nuclear capabilities: three post-Soviet states (Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan) and South Africa, which had covertly developed a nuclear weapons arsenal.
Ukraine’s actions were not without significant commitments, however, by the other signatories. Russia, the U.S. and the UK pledged in part “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”
Today, Russia’s policies and actions toward Ukraine’s Crimea region demonstrate complete disregard for this critically important memorandum and international law.
As a response, some within the Ukrainian government are looking beyond an immediate call for Western help to a more proactive means of guaranteeing their national security, i.e. regaining nuclear weapons status.
The recently introduced legislation is the latest expression of the growing sentiment that a nuclear Ukraine is a protected Ukraine.
Mustafa Dzhemilev, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament since 1998, recently said he had spoken directly with Putin and told him that because of Russia’s breaking of the Budapest Memorandum, “such arrangements will not be trusted by anyone anymore, and that each country that has financial capacity to acquire its own nuclear weapons will be aspired to go down that path, and Ukraine is no exception.”
In addition, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Ogryzko recently said, “Ukraine needs to announce that it is walking away from the NPT and immediately restart the full nuclear cycle and manufacturing of all the components of the weapons.“
Ironically, the notion of reacquiring nuclear weapons as a security guarantee is a position publicly advocated by Putin himself: “If you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. … This is logical: If you have the bomb, no one will touch you.“
These words were written by Putin to the American people in the context of U.S. policy toward Syria in a New York Times opinion piece from September 11.
Full article: Is Ukraine about to go nuclear again? (CNN)