More than 30 years have passed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A period of peace in Europe that has been altered in these last two weeks as a result of the military offensive that Russia has launched on Ukraine. Two countries, now enemies, that were former allies.
Ukraine emerged as an independent state after the end of the Soviet Union. A country that had been the Ukrainian People’s Republic (Ukrainian SSR) for much of the 20th century and which saw a new rebirth after the fall of the USSR. The 15 republics that made up the Soviet bloc became independent. and Ukraine became one of the most nuclear-armed powers on the planet.
Why did Ukraine give Russia all its nuclear weapons?
On July 16, 1990, the new parliament signed the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. An independence that also brought some responsibilities arising from his Soviet tour. In that same year, the Ukrainian country decided to give up the nuclear weapons that were on its borders in exchange for security and recognition as an independent country.
An agreement that was embodied in the Budapest Memorandumsigned by Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States in 1994. The Ukrainian country agreed to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In this way, he returned to Moscow the warheads that were on its territory.
The pact, also signed by Russia, guaranteed the “independence, sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” as well as “the territorial integrity or political independence” of the country. An agreement that was already broken according to Ukraine in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and the port of Sevastopol.
How many nuclear weapons did Ukraine have?
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, stated hours before the Russian invasion of his country that “The world owes Ukraine its security“. A phrase, pronounced before the UN General Assembly that makes sense if we look at the nuclear arsenal that Ukraine had and that it ceded to Russia. Ukraine is estimated to have had some 1,900 nuclear warheads, being the third nation with the most nuclear weapons on the planet, only behind Russia and the United States. Paradoxes of life, now those weapons are in the hands of their greatest enemy, the Russian Federation.