Amid a full-fledged attack by Russia, a top Ukrainian politician recalled how his country disarmed its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from Russia and USA, only to be completely powerless now.
“Ukraine is the only nation in the human history which gave up the nuclear arsenal, the third biggest in the world in 1994, with guarantees of the US, UK and Russian Federation. Where are these guarantees? Now we are bombed and killed,” rued Ukrainian Member of Parliament Alexey Goncharenko on Thursday.
There was a time when Ukraine had the 3rd largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
With the end of World War II, the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union began. During this period, Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union (present-day Russia). At this time, there was also a competition between USA and Russia to make atomic bombs. When relations between the two countries soured, Russia deployed thousands of nuclear weapons in Ukraine against the US and NATO allies.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the end of the Cold War. Along with this, Ukraine also announced its separation from the Soviet Union, but thousands of nuclear weapons remained with Ukraine. The economic condition of Russia and its supporting countries(including Ukraine) had become very bad. For this reason, they needed business relations and cooperation with Western countries. This is where the story of Ukraine’s abandonment of nuclear weapons began.
It is claimed by various experts and media reports that the number of nuclear bombs in Ukraine was between 1800 and 2000 after the fall of the Soviet Union. This number was the largest after the US and Russia stockpiles. According to official data, even at present, except US and Russia, no country has such a large number of atomic bombs.
December 5, 1994 – It was the day the leaders of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia, Britain and the US met in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. An agreement was signed at this meeting, according to which Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan were assured of their independence, sovereignty and respect for existing borders. These countries were also assured that foreign powers would never become a threat to their sovereignty and independence. This agreement was named the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurance. In return for this agreement, the three countries were to give up their nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Ukraine returned atomic bombs in 1996
By the middle of 1996, Ukraine handed over its nuclear weapons to Russia under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, many experts forbade Ukraine to take this decision in haste. Ukraine is now bearing the brunt of this move.
Ukraine first bore the brunt of giving up nuclear weapons in 2014, when Russia sent troops to annex Ukraine’s Crimean region. Russia then annexed it by holding a referendum in Crimea. At this time, various Western countries including the US had announced economic sanctions on Russia. However, the impact of these sanctions on Russia has been proved by the current attack on Ukraine.