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Nuclear disarmament: why Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons and whether their deployment in Belarus is legal

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Nuclear disarmament: why Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons and whether their deployment in Belarus is legal

In 1996, Ukraine was made to believe that the world was tired of the terrible World War and refused to solve problems by force of arms. But as time has shown, this is an absolute lie. Find out how and why Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons

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Before giving up nuclear weapons, Ukraine had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, with a strategic and tactical stockpile of more than 5,000 weapons. However, the Ukrainian government decided to give up nuclear weapons, and we are still feeling the consequences of this decision today. 


We propose to explore the issue of nuclear weapons in more detail to understand why we gave up weapons and what threats nuclear weapons pose to Belarus.


Nuclear-free Ukraine


The issue of nuclear disarmament became a cornerstone during the process of gaining independence in 1991. 


Volodymyr Vasylenko, one of the authors of the Declaration of State Sovereignty and the provision on nuclear-free status, commented on the decision to disarm.


According to him, at that time there was a choice between gaining broader rights and independence and preserving the nuclear arsenal. In other words, giving up nuclear weapons was a pass to global recognition and independence from the USSR. 


Officially, Ukraine lost its nuclear status in 1996, although steps to this end had been taken since the early 1990s. In 1991, Ukraine signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Budapest Memorandum, thus making a diplomatic curtsy and establishing diplomatic ties with russia and Western countries. 


Unfortunately, the security guarantees provided for the transfer of weapons to russia do not work. Therefore, each of us can decide whether it was a mistake to give up nuclear warheads.


Financial support, cooperation with the United States and other reasons for disarmament


More than one factor prompted the Ukrainian establishment to give up nuclear weapons to russia. Many leaders realized the strategic error of such a decision, but sought to treat the symptoms, not the disease. As we can see, the incurable disease was and is the russian federation, which continues to rape our country.


The reasons for giving up nuclear weapons include:


- The need for financial support from the West;

- fear of russia;

- the need for global recognition of Ukraine in the diplomatic arena;

- lack of technical resources to control weapons;

- desire to receive security guarantees.


The United States played a key role in the decision. First, they showed their willingness to provide financial support in exchange for giving up weapons. Secondly, the United States, together with the United Kingdom and russia, signed the Budapest Memorandum, which was supposed to guarantee the inviolability of Ukrainian territory. At the time, the guarantees from the three superpowers were impressive.  


As time has shown, this memorandum is worth no more than the piece of paper it is written on.


The risk of international isolation also put pressure on the government of the day. Leonid Kravchuk did not join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the first days of his term, but eventually took this step.


It is worth mentioning the visit of Bill Clinton, who did not go beyond Boryspil but had a conversation with Kravchuk at the airport. This was a clear indication of the cold relations between the United States and Ukraine. 


Volodymyr Vasylenko recalls that in those days, the choice was between nuclear weapons and political commitment to russia, along with the negative attitude of the United States towards us.




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In exchange for the weapons, Ukraine received:


- Compensation for the cost of highly enriched uranium in nuclear warheads;

- financial assistance for the destruction of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, silos and bombers;

- security guarantees.


Our country received about $980 million in fuel for nuclear power plants, and part of russia's gas debts were written off.


Ukraine's renunciation of nuclear weapons: a mistake or not?


Since the outbreak of the war in Donbas and subsequent full-scale invasion, the issue of nuclear disarmament has been repeatedly discussed. It is also noted that Ukraine gave up some of the weapons used by the aggressor against us in the 1990s under the Budapest Memorandum. 


Even Bill Clinton, who then insisted on transferring the nukes to russia, admitted his actions were wrong in April 2023.


Although Ukraine received some compensation for disarmament, it was not enough at the time. Yuriy Kostenko, a politician and leader of the Ukrainian People's Party who was involved in nuclear disarmament, believes that Ukraine could have received more. In the end, russia and the United States concluded a treaty that met only their interests.


Nuclear terror and Belarus


Russia decided to strengthen Belarus by giving them tactical nuclear weapons. Soon, the aggressor promises to complete the construction of a special storage facility and start training Belarusians.


At the same time, the representative of Belarus to the UN, Valentin Rybakov, said that no practical steps have been taken and that all the rhetoric is just statements. According to him, such decisions will be made by the Belarusian authorities, not another country. 


As usual, our northern neighbors contradict their own words. While one politician denies the deployment of a nuclear weapon, another tells us where the warheads will be stored. According to the russian ambassador to Minsk, Boris Gryzlov, nuclear weapons will be deployed near the western borders to ensure the security of both russia and Belarus.


It should be added that Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, doubts that Lukashenko will allow the deployment of such weapons in his country.


According to experts at the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), putin wants to exert more influence over the Belarusian army. In fact, it makes no sense for him to deploy weapons on Belarusian soil, because he can strike anywhere in the world anyway. They also assume that the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus will not take place.


We remind you! Earlier, we wrote that the United States is a strategically important partner of Ukraine, as its military and financial assistance is estimated at tens of billions of dollars. Find out why the events in Colorado made Ukrainians nervous and why Joe Biden's health is important for Ukraine. Details are available here.




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