Kuleba: Ukraine takes US nuclear thinking seriously but became a victim in 1994
Dmytro Kuleba (Photo: MFA)

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba commented on fears of a nuclear escalation by Russia in the fall of 2022 and emphasized that Ukraine takes "nuclear arguments in American thinking" very seriously. However, he also emphasized in an interview with Foreign Affairs magazine that Ukraine had already "fallen victim to this thinking in 1994."

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On September 21, 2022, Russian dictator Volodymyr Putin announced a "partial" mobilization in Russia and hinted at the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Later, the US State Department reacted to these statements and emphasized that if nuclear weapons are used, the consequences for Russia "will be catastrophic, severe, strong and deep." CIA Director William Burns said that Putin's nuclear threats should be taken "very seriously."

Commenting on these events and communication with American allies, Kuleba emphasized that it was "a very cautious conversation on the Ukrainian platform."

He also emphasized that the Ukrainian side takes "nuclear arguments in American thinking very seriously," and therefore heated conversations about the Russian nuclear threat "were always very balanced and rational, and there was no development of a single emotion in it." The current situation is different from last year, the minister noted.

"We were fully aware of the importance of nuclear deterrence theory or doctrine in the way US decision-makers think," he said.

At the same time, the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded us that Ukraine "became a victim of this thinking in 1994," when the United States and the Russian Federation "conspired behind Ukraine's back to deprive Ukraine of its nuclear arsenal."

"The reason why Russia was doing it was simple: they wanted to disarm Ukraine and deprive us of the most powerful tool of defending our independence and deterring Russian nuclear and military threats," Kuleba emphasized.

He noted that the reason the US did this was the nuclear deterrence doctrine, because, according to him, Ukraine was the friendliest country for the US and "still is, because it did not pose any threat to them."

"The choice that the United States put before Ukraine at that time was this: either give up the nuclear arsenal or become a prior in international relations, similar to North Korea," the head of the Foreign Ministry stressed.

On January 14, 1994, the leaders of Ukraine, the United States, and Russia signed a joint statement of intent to remove all nuclear weapons from Ukraine. The Budapest Memorandum ("Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine's Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons") was signed 11 months later, on December 5, 1994. According to this document, Ukraine had to eliminate all nuclear weapons on its territory. At the same time, the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom pledged to respect Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and existing borders, and stated that "none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine." All countries also said they would hold "consultations in the event of a situation that raises questions about these commitments."

On March 25, 2023, Russian dictator Putin announced his intention to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, allegedly in response to the UK's plans to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions.

On June 9, Putin said that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus in July, when the storage facilities for them were ready, Reuters reported. Later, on June 14, Lukashenko said that Belarus had begun receiving its first tactical nuclear weapons from Russia.

On January 20, 2024, the dictator of Belarus said that he had received nuclear missiles for the Iskander complex from Russia. Servant of the People MP Chernev said at the time that this could indicate Moscow's possible intention to attack Poland and Lithuania in the future.