Ukraine could give up its decades-old pledge to be a non-nuclear nation and reverse the decision it took to give up its atomic weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned 19 February 2022. Speaking at the Munich security conference, Zelensky pointed out that in 1994 Ukraine joined the Budapest Memorandum and gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees, suggesting the move could be reversed if it is threatened by neighboring Russia.
“Today we have neither weapons nor security. We have lost a part of our territory, which is larger by its area than Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium. And, most importantly, we’ve lost millions of our citizens. All this is absent,” Zelensky said. He also said that Ukraine tried to initiate consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum three times as part of an effort to review its terms – without any success.
“Today Ukraine will do it for the fourth time,” he said, stressing that he had ordered his Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba to request the consultations but that it would be the last attempt from Ukraine's side. “If they do not take place or there are no concrete decisions regarding the security guarantees for our state, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all package decisions of 1994 have been put under question,” Zelensky said.
A Ukrainian diplomat warned 15 April 2021 that Kyiv may be forced to acquire nuclear weapons to safeguard the country’s security if NATO does not accede to its membership demand amid spiralling tensions with neighboring Russia. Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, suggested to national public radio network Deutschlandfunkthat President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration was weighing up all possible options as fears mount over a possible escalation of hostilities in the country’s conflict-stricken east. “Either we are part of an alliance like NATO and also make our contribution to strengthen this Europe, or we have only one option; to rearm ourselves,” Germany’s DPA news agency quoted Melnyk as saying. “How else could we guarantee our defence?”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said 16 March 2022 that the threat of Ukraine's creation of nuclear weapons was real. "There were statements by the Kiev authorities about their intention to create their own nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles. This was a real threat," the head of state believes.
Russia’s campaign of disinformation included numerous attempts at staging false pretexts for war. Most notable among them is the ridiculous claim, repeated by the Russian Foreign Minister, on nuclear weapons. It is important to re-state the facts. Ukraine acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1994 as a non-nuclear weapon state, and voluntarily returned to Russia the nuclear weapons that were on its territory from the time of independence from the USSR. In doing so, Ukraine received security assurances from the United States, the UK and Russia in the Budapest Memorandum against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine – assurances which Russia flagrantly disregarded. There is no evidence whatsoever that Ukraine has been developing or seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and it is shameful that the Russian government continues to conduct this sort of disinformation operation in a transparent attempt to justify the unjustifiable.
According to fabricated claims by the Foreign Intelligence Service [SVR] of the Russian Federation reported 06 March 2022, developments to create a nuclear explosive device, which could later be used in the design of nuclear warheads, were carried out in Ukraine "both in uranium and plutonium areas". Ukraine received plutonium of the required quality for the development of nuclear weapons from abroad, there is every reason to believe that this was not without the participation of the United States.
"To speed up this R&D, plutonium of the required quality was obtained from abroad at the initial stage. According to available information, the United States has already transferred this material to its partners. There is reason to believe that and in the "Ukrainian case" it was not without the participation of Washington," the source said.
He stressed that, according to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, developments to create a nuclear explosive device (NED), which could later be used in the design of nuclear warheads, were carried out in Ukraine "both in uranium and plutonium areas." "The scientific community of Ukraine has sufficient competencies to create both "implosive" and "cannon" type nuclear explosive devices. Kyiv could also secretly acquire technologies for centrifugal uranium enrichment and laser isotope separation from the West," the agency's interlocutor added.
He added that the Institute for Nuclear Safety Problems in Chernobyl, the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety in Kyiv and the Institute for Condensed System Physics in Lvov also participated in these works, "which have scientific background and appropriate hardware and software potential in the field of modeling state of matter."
According to him, a key role in the creation of NEDs was assigned to the National Scientific Center "Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology" (NSC KIPT), "since the experimental base available there makes it possible to conduct a wide range of studies on the study of nuclear materials, including spent reactor fuel assemblies, which could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium." "At the same time, the neutron physics division of the NSC KIPT carried out calculations of the criticality of nuclear reactors, which are also applicable in the nuclear weapons field. Assistance to the Center in the development of methods for the separation of isotopes of nuclear materials was provided by specialized structures of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, in particular, the Institute for Nuclear Research and the Institute organic chemistry," the source said.
The Ukrainian leadership, in the face of tensions in relations with the Russian Federation, decided to destroy all the documentation on nuclear developments stored in scientific centers in Kyiv and Kharkov or move it to the national university in Lvov. This information was shared with TASS by a source in one of the Russian departments.
"In the context of increasing tensions in relations with Russia, the Ukrainian leadership decided to destroy or evacuate all valuable documentation stored in scientific centers in Kyiv and Kharkov to Lviv - to the Lviv Polytechnic National University. This was done, among other things, in order to avoid accusations to the Kiev regime about the presence of a weapons component in the "peaceful nuclear program" of Ukraine," the source said.
He pointed to the reason for the clashes in the administrative premises of the Zaporozhye NPP between the patrol of the National Guard and Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups (DRGs). "Certain documentation was also available at the Zaporozhye NPP. The clashes with Ukrainian DRGs in the administrative premises adjacent to the NPP were, apparently, connected precisely with this. Thus, the implementation by Kiev of its extremely dangerous "nuclear Ukraine" project could become a reality already in in the very near future. It is difficult to overestimate the negative consequences of the danger of the implementation of these works," he stressed.
On 04 March 2022, a fire broke out on the territory of the NPP training complex. Later, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported that the fire was extinguished, and there were no victims or injured. According to the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Ukrainian sabotage group attempted a provocation in the territory adjacent to the nuclear power plant. According to him, the saboteurs opened heavy fire on the patrol of the National Guard guarding the territory, in response, the firing points were suppressed, and the saboteurs, leaving the building of the training building, set fire to it.
Ukraine had been negotiating with foreign companies to help the country set up its own uranium enrichment facilities. This information was shared with TASS by a source in one of the Russian departments. He pointed out that in recent years, Ukraine "intensified exploration of deep layers in the territory of existing uranium mines, as well as the development of promising uranium deposits," in particular, in the Nikolaev, Dnepropetrovsk and Kirovograd regions. "At the same time, Ukrainian representatives initiated a dialogue with foreign companies on providing assistance to Ukraine in creating its own uranium enrichment enterprises in the country," the source said.
"In this regard, it is noteworthy that the hydrometallurgical plant in Zhovti Vody is already processing uranium oxide concentrate from ore mined in Ukraine, which can be used in the process of uranium enrichment in gas centrifuges without additional processing and purification," the agency's interlocutor added.
According to the interlocutor of the agency, implementing programs in both the nuclear and missile spheres for more than two decades, Kyiv has consistently moved towards the formation of all the necessary conditions for creating its own nuclear weapons. Ukraine could acquire nuclear weapons within a few months. This information was shared with TASS by a source in one of the Russian departments.
"According to the conclusion of Western experts, the Kyiv regime was the closest to creating a nuclear explosive device based on plutonium by secretly obtaining it from spent nuclear fuel stored in the country. Ukrainian specialists could manufacture such a device within a few months," the source said.
According to him, having been implementing programs in both the nuclear and missile spheres for more than two decades, Ukraine has been consistently moving towards the formation of all the necessary conditions for creating its own nuclear weapons. "In particular, significant results have been achieved in the field of modeling nuclear chain reactions, isotope separation of fissile materials, as well as in the study and metallurgy of nuclear materials," the source said.
Ukrainian Second Thoughts
John Mearsheimer argued in Foreign Affairs in 2004 that: "Conventional wisdom argues that Ukraine should be forced to give up its nuclear weapons to ensure peace and stability in Europe. This is quite wrong. As soon as Ukraine declared its independence, Washington should have encouraged Kiev to fashion its own secure nuclear deterrent. The dangers of Russian-Ukrainian rivalry bode poorly for peace. If Ukraine is forced to maintain a large conventional army to deter potential Russian expansion, the danger of war is much greater than if it maintains a nuclear capability. US policy should recognize that Ukraine, come what may, will keep its nuclear weapons." Ukraine should not have given up nuclear weapons in exchange for the Budapest Memorandum: it would have been said differently, it could have "blackmailed the whole world" if it had nuclear status. This opinion was expressed 29 July 2021 on the air of Ukraine 24 by the head of the Servant of the People faction David Arahamiya. According to him, the first president Leonid Kravchuk had a "fatal mistake" - to get rid of nuclear weapons after the signing of a meaningless Memorandum (Budapest - ed.).
According to the head of the Security Council, if Ukraine remained a nuclear state, they would talk to Kyiv differently, they would agree differently. Arahami admitted that he did not know the circumstances of signing the memorandum - and now "it is easy to think, after so many years." However, he believes that it was necessary to show perseverance and sign at least other documents. "Even if we could not service (nuclear weapons - ed.), We could be reduced, but still leave the nuclear potential. We could blackmail the whole world and give us money for maintenance, as is happening in many other countries." , - the people's deputy considers.
Economist and senior researcher at the Center for Security Policy in Washington Andriy Illarionov, on Ukraine 24 TV channel on 31 July 2021, said that Arahamia's opinion did not reflect the position of the executive branch of government. "This is the opinion of one of the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, this is not the position of the executive branch. This is not the position of the President of Ukraine. Blackmail is a tool used by the Kremlin master, and even the White House master used this tool in 2015. removal of the Prosecutor General," Illarionov said. According to him, Kyiv should adhere to etiquette and the right political position. Such statements could put Ukraine on a par with Iran and the DPRK, which does not meet the goals and objectives of the Ukrainian state, which awaits a European future.
The former head of the SBU Igor Smeshko stated 04 August 2021 that Kyiv must face the West: either negotiate the development of the Budapest Memorandum , or Kyiv is launching domestic consultations on withdrawing from the nuclear weapons treaty and is considering the prospect of becoming a nuclear power again. On the air of Ukraine 24 TV channel , he said that Kyiv had the technical capabilities to service its nuclear arsenal. The measures could be implemented if such a decision was made by the authorities. Moreover, there were two significant nuclear centers in the country - in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Kharkov's Hartron aimed at strategic nuclear weapons. According to him, in 1994 the expert-scientific council "advocated that we should leave tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine."
He also added that from now on Kyiv should make a clear demand from the West: either to continue consultations under the Budapest Memorandum, or Ukraine is considering regaining its nuclear status. Only nuclear weapons can protect the country from aggression. "We must now demand from the nuclear countries - either we develop the memorandum on guarantees of security and sovereignty of our state, or we can start internal consultations in Ukraine on withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and consider becoming a nuclear state in the future. only nuclear weapons de facto and de jure protect the country's borders, "Igor Smeshko stressed.
Ukraine must receive significant compensation from the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum , because in 1994 the country surrendered nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees, and in fact, it was deceived. This was stated 20 December 2021 by Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Alexei Danilov in an interview with Apostrophe TV. "In 1994, when I apologize, we were deceived when nuclear warheads were taken away. They were handed over to the United States and agreed that Russia would take them away, " he reminded.
Danilov added that as a result of such a decision, Russia is blackmailing the whole world, including the United States, and Ukraine has been left without weapons that could protect its territorial integrity. "That's why we have to get compensation for it. I'm not saying that no compensation of adequate money was made. And today we need help, especially in weapons of defense , "Danilov said.
Defense Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu said 21 February 2022 that the words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the desire to return the status of a nuclear country are extremely dangerous. "I would like to draw the attention of the members of the Security Council to Mr. Zelensky's statement that they assume and would like to regain the status of a nuclear country, I will not say powers, but countries. This is extremely dangerous for several reasons," Shoigu said, speaking at the meeting Security Council, which is held by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the minister, over the long years of Soviet rule and being part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has created opportunities to create such weapons and such carriers. “By the way, if we mention that tactical weapons, nuclear weapons are located on the territory of Germany, then they may well appear here and plan to appear on those carriers that already exist today,” the head of the Defense Ministry noted, citing “Tochka-U” as an example. "There is equipment, there are technologies, there are specialists who can and have the opportunity, in our opinion, much more than the capabilities of Iran and North Korea, which are talked about at all levels," Shoigu stressed.
Neither Washington nor its allies harbor any intention of arming Ukraine with nuclear weapons, the US envoy to the UN stated at an emergency meeting of the Security Council, which was convened after Moscow recognized two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine. The ambassador argued that Kiev is not seeking to arm itself with nukes either, despite a recent statement by the Ukrainian president that his country might give up its decades-old pledge to be a non-nuclear state. “The US and our allies have no intention of supplying nuclear weapons to Ukraine, and Ukraine doesn't want them,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on 21 February 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on Ukrainian statements about the possibility of reconsidering its renunciation of nuclear weapons. On 24 February 2022 in a televised address, Putin said that Russia will not allow Ukraine to acquire nuclear weapons. The development of even tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine would mean a strategic threat to the Russian Federation, according to the president. He noted that the radical nationalist forces in the country aspire to produce and stockpile nuclear weapons. Moreover, Putin added that Ukraine still has a fairly wide range of know-how in the field of nuclear weapons development left over from the Soviet era.
Kiev wants to create ballistic missile systems that have the ability to strike deep into Russian territory and Ukraine has the potential for this, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Roscosmos state corporation, said on 26 February 2022. "They [Ukraine] have legendary factories in Dnepropetrovsk, Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and Yuzhmashzavod. There is enormous potential there. Now their goal is to create their own ballistic systems, which will have a real ability to strike our territory," Rogozin told the Soloviev Live YouTube show. He noted that it would not be difficult for any team of engineers to increase the range of the Grom complex already operating in Ukraine.
The creation of nuclear weapons by Ukraine would threaten the security of the whole world and provoke the outbreak of a nuclear war, Russia could not allow uncontrolled Ukrainian nationalists to have them, said Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, on 15 March 2022.
He noted that with the support of the West, the Ukrainian leadership's statements about the possibility of changing the country's nuclear status are not empty words. "The implementation of these intentions could really happen. And this is already a clear threat not only to the security of Russia, but of the whole world, provoking the outbreak of a nuclear war. We could not allow the frenzied, uncontrollable nationalists to have nuclear weapons," Patrushev emphasized.
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