The New York Times: Ukraine gave up a giant nuclear arsenal 30 years ago, and today you feel regret
The New York Times said that Ukraine – which was the third nuclear power on earth after both the United States and Russia – handed over thousands of atomic weapons it possessed when the Soviet Union collapsed in exchange for security guarantees from Moscow, Washington and other countries .
The American newspaper – in a report Her—that with the end of the Cold War, the slow collapse of the Soviet Union culminating in December 1991 resulted in newly independent Ukraine acquiring nearly 5,000 nuclear weapons that Moscow had placed on its soil.
Underground bunkers at their military bases held long-range missiles carrying up to 10 thermonuclear warheads, each much more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, and only Russia and the United States had more weapons.
The New York Times reported that the removal of this arsenal is often remembered as a victory for arms control efforts, as diplomats and peace activists consider Ukraine a “model country” in a world teeming with powers aspiring to the nuclear club.
But history – the newspaper adds – shows that the denuclearization of Ukraine was a chaotic change on the impact of infighting, unrest and disagreements between the government and the army, as local and American experts are now skeptical about the wisdom of taking such a step, especially since some see in lethal weapons the only reliable way to deter Russian aggression.
But the path of Ukraine today to produce or obtain the materials needed to build a nuclear bomb is no longer easy, although the “nuclear genie” is back again as Russian forces encircle the Ukrainian nation and wage a shadow war in its far eastern provinces.
“We gave up our capabilities for nothing,” said Andrey Zahorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian defense minister, referring to security guarantees. “Now every time someone offers us to sign a paper, the response is: Thank you very much, we already had one like This is some time ago.”
Western analysts believe that the current Ukrainian mood tends to romanticize this country’s nuclear past, as Marianna Podgerin, an expert on Ukraine at Harvard University asserts, “The bottom line is: we owned the weapons, we gave them up, and now look what happens. At the political level, no I see any movement towards any kind of reconsideration, but on a popular level this is the novel.”
Volodymyr Tolobko, a former commander of the Ukrainian nuclear base who was elected to parliament, has argued that Kiev should never give up its nuclear supremacy.
In April 1992, Tolubko addressed the people’s representatives, saying, “It was romantic and premature for our country to declare itself a non-nuclear state,” insisting that the country retain at least some of its long-range warheads, and stressing that the remaining missile power would be sufficient “to deter any aggressor.”
Although the position of this deputy did not enjoy wide support – the newspaper concludes – “it exacerbated the existing tensions in this regard,” according to detailed historical sources that dealt with the course of nuclear disarmament in Ukraine.