After the Cold War ended in 1991 the government of Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons, but now members of the opposition that overthrew the elected government are having second thoughts. Weapons of Mass Destruction have regained their appeal.
Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament aligned with boxer turned politician Vitali Klitschko, has now raised the possibility of the opposition seeking nuclear weapons. Rizanenko claims nuclear weapons may be necessary due to threats to territorial integrity.
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.”
Of course the “we” in those sentences is problematic. Rizanenko is part of a faction of Ukrainian politics that helped overthrow the elected president and he is a supporter of one of the contending presidential candidates for the upcoming elections. While he is a member of parliament it’s unclear if all of Ukraine really wants nuclear weapons.
And even if much of Ukraine – or at least the factions that have seized power in Kiev – wanted nuclear weapons there is no good reason they should be allowed to have them. Ukraine is one of the most unstable political societies in the world – throwing nuclear weapons into the mix is a recipe for disaster.
Should Ukraine begin pursuing WMDs I’m sure the US’ response will be completely consistent with its previous positions, such as with Iran and Iraq.
Photo by US Army under public domain.