Ukraine: On Second Thought, Maybe We Shouldn't Have Given Up Our Nuclear Weapons

If Bill Clinton’s was the Animal House presidency, then Ukraine is realizing that it made the mistake of trusting Clinton, and by extension America.

Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994 on the promise that the U.S., UK and Russia would respect its territorial integrity. Ukraine didn’t sign on to the Budapest Memorandum because it feared a British invasion. Based on its history with its neighbor, it feared a Russian invasion. It wanted backup for giving up the one serious deterrent that it had for preventing such an invasion.


Now the Russians have taken Crimea, and Ukraine still doesn’t have its nukes.

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY.

The United States, Great Britain and Russia agreed in a pact “to assure Ukraine’s territorial integrity” in return for Ukraine giving up a nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union after declaring independence in 1991, said Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

“We gave up nuclear weapons because of this agreement,” said Rizanenko, a member of the Udar Party headed by Vitali Klitschko, a candidate for president. “Now there’s a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake.”

His statements come as Russia raised the possibility it may send its troops beyond the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea into the eastern half of Ukraine.

The price of inaction now may well be much larger action later.

The communist dictatorship that was the Soviet Union had based nuclear missiles in republics it held captive along its border with Europe, and Ukraine had thousands. World powers urged Ukraine to give up the arsenal but its leaders balked, expressing fear they needed the weapons to deter Russia from trying to reverse Ukraine’s independence.

To reassure the Ukrainians, the United States and leaders of the United Kingdom and Russia signed in 1994 the “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” in which the signatories promised that none of them would threaten or use force to alter the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.


Russia didn’t “threaten” to use force against Ukraine. It just invaded without making any threats at all. With Putin, there aren’t any red lines to state and then erase.


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