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The Security Index Occasional Paper Series Came Out With The New Report “Nuclear Peremoga: Can Kyiv Get Nuclear Weapons?” By Alexandra Zubenko And Sergey Semenov

February 22, 2022

MOSCOW. FEBRUARY 22, 2022. PIR PRESS. The Security Index Occasional Paper Series came out with the new report “Nuclear peremoga: Can Kyiv get nuclear weapons?” by Alexandra Zubenko and Sergey Semenov.

After 2014, many Ukrainian politicians, journalists, and public figures have made statements about the possibility of revising Ukraine’s accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear state. The recent speech by the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, threatening to invalidate the Budapest Memorandum, as well as the subsequent reaction of Moscow, returned the issue of nuclear nonproliferation in the post-Soviet space to the agenda. This research paper analyzes the technical capabilities of Ukraine to create nuclear weapons.

Key findings:

  • The Ukrainian elite is convinced that if Ukraine had retained its nuclear potential, it would have avoided “Russian aggression.” But such a linear perception does not give a complete picture of how and under what conditions the country’s rejection of nuclear weapons took place, to what extent the existing potential corresponded to the goal of deterring Russia and to what extent Ukraine would be ready to maintain nuclear potential on its territory.
  • Ukrainian capabilities in the field of independent creation of nuclear weapons have significantly decreased since the collapse of the USSR.
  • At this stage, Ukraine is unable to independently create nuclear weapons. At the same time, this does not mean that the “nuclear theme” in Kyiv’s rhetoric will subside against the background of the decision to recognize the independence of the DPR and the LPR.
  • The Kyiv leadership is interested in maintaining uncertainty around this plot in order to beat out additional preferences, economic and military assistance from its Western patrons.
  • The emergence of new nuclear players contradicts the interests of Russia, wherever they appear. But this threat will be especially acute if such new players appear along the perimeter of the Russian borders. This is unacceptable from the point of view of Russia’s security interests.
  • The greatest danger to Russia’s security interests is the gradual involvement of Ukraine in the nuclear activities of the alliance with the prospect of deploying U.S. nuclear weapons and high-precision strike systems on the territory of the country.