Ukraine became a nuclear weapons state in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, briefly inheriting the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world, including nearly 200 intercontinental ballistic missiles, dozens of bombers, and about 1,700 warheads. Kiev agreed to destroy some of the weapons, and transfer the rest to Russia, in 1994.
Ukraine may need to become a nuke-armed state again if the Western Alliance doesn’t allow it to become a member, Andriy Melnyk, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, has said.
Accusing Russia of wanting to “wipe out Ukraine as a state,” Melnyk said Ukraine needs not only moral support from the West, but modern weapons systems, as well as military assistance from alliance members including Germany.
Kiev inherited a major nuclear arsenal, including 176 ICBMs and 44 strategic bombers, after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. In 1994, Kiev agreed to eliminate this arsenal and join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, with Russia, the United States, and Britain agreeing to guarantee its security.
Ukraine likely retains the technical capability to build a nuclear arsenal, however, the state of its civilian nuclear power programme leaves something to be desired. Last year, Ukrainian nuclear industry workers sounded the alarm about the threat of “another Chernobyl,” citing a “dire situation” which they said was “taking shape in the country’s nuclear energy sector” due to a lack of oversight, safety permits, and funds….