Some time ago Valeriy Heletey, the Ukraine’s Minister of Defence, made another scoop saying Russia threatened Ukraine with the use of tactical nuclear weapons. If the United States and Great Britain along with other NATO member-states don’t start arms deliveries to Ukraine, then Kiev will have no other choice but launch a military nuclear program of its own aimed at restoring the nuclear power status. And nuclear Ukraine will not be a state to mess around with, he let it be understood unequivocally.
Of course, as parliamentary elections are drawing near a lot of things are pronounced as slips of tongue in the heat of ongoing race. The Heletey’s position is shaky, the commanders of punitive battalions headed by Semen Semenchenko, who has visited Washington, are confidently making their way to Verkhovna Rada adamant to put the blame on Heletey for all the inglorious defeats the Ukrainian fighting cocks suffered on the battlefield. The country’s military is hard hit by theft; the weapons destined for fighting the enemy are sold right there on spot long before they get to the forward battle area. Under the circumstances, it’s not a big thing to talk about nuclear status. It’s tough enough to make you declare a nuclear war on Russia just to make Pravy Sector (a Ukrainian extreme right ultra nationalist political party) raise no ballyhoo anymore about the military parade promised by Heletey in Sebastopol and to avoid being thrown into a wheelie bin and pelted with rubbish after being targeted by an angry mob committing deeds of street lustration in Kiev.
The very fact that the nuclear issue has come into focus cannot be explained only by pre-election heat and the Heletey’s unstable position. Some groups of Ukrainian nationalists have been dreaming about nuclear weapons since a long time ago. In March a draft bill was introduced in Ukraine's parliament calling for withdrawal from the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The bill seeks to change Ukraine's non-nuclear status established by the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, where Kiev agreed to become a nuclear-free state, giving up its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal. It has not become a law as of now but two deputies from the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) Party and one from the UDAR party are known as ardent fighters against the «Russian aggression». The bill was introduced in the wake of Crimea referendum. The process of its consideration in parliament got stymied then. But it’s a complex enough issue. In 2009 the Ternopil district council, where Svoboda party deputies enjoyed the majority, appealed to President, Prime-Minister and Verkhovna Rada calling for tearing up the Budapest memorandum and restoring the nuclear status of Ukraine.
The position of Russia is known. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov made it precise some time ago. According to him, the withdrawal of Ukraine from NPT is unacceptable and all the reasons to substantiate the move are non-existent and artificially invented.
The international community applies serious efforts to maintain the non-proliferation regime and it should be adhered to by all states without exclusions. No country can be connived at when it comes to compliance.
The talks about restoring the nuclear status, the bill introduced into parliament and the statement by the Minister of Defence – what does it mean if you pick up odds and ends and piece it together? Is it an attempt to blackmail Russia? Or is it all done to make the West start arms deliveries to Ukraine? Or, perhaps, the goal is to push Russia and make it take more resolute steps like bringing in troops on Ukraine’s soil to provoke a NATO response? It should be made clear.
Is Ukraine really going to launch a nuclear program? Can it take an independent decision on the matter? The Ukrainian government depends on the West too much, there is a slight chance the Ukrainian politicians could make an independent decision. Anything can be said, of course. But it sounds too unbelievable that Poroshenko may launch a nuclear race without Washington’s consent.
The next question is what approach will the United States adopt in case Ukraine restores its nuclear status? The answer is not that easy in the both cases. Probably Americans will not allow Ukraine even dream about anything like that. Non-proliferation has been a sacred cow of US foreign policy for many years. George Bush even invented «the axis of evil» to protect the NPT regime. That’s why Iran and North Korea are constantly threatened by military strike. The nuclear Ukraine will pose an even more grave threat. Nuclear material will immediately spread around the world ending up in the hands of terrorists of all kinds in case they can pay. It would be a real nightmare for Europe.
But the times are changing, as is known. International instability is becoming a promising source of profit for US exports. Nobody expects European interests to always meet the US ones. It’s rather quite to the contrary. That’s why nuclear weapons in the hands of an «our son of a bitch» from Kiev (especially talking about tactical weapons, nobody mentioned intercontinental strategic missiles) could one day become an acceptable option for Washington as an instrument of destabilizing Russia and Europe. In this case it’s more blessed to simply close the eyes and pretend not to see what’s going on, or may be do nothing more that pronounce the words of condemnation.
The third issue is related to money matters. The creation of nuclear weapons has its price. Ukraine is running low on money. Kiev has not even taken a decision on how to make it through winter time. It refuses to recognize chasteners killed in Donbass as participants of «anti-terrorist operation» to save money by avoiding compensation pays at least. Who will pay for nuclear weapons? Will it be tycoon Kolomoisky, the governor of Dnepropetrovsk?
There is no definite answer here…True, Ukraine has no money, but if you try to scrape it together here and there who knows what you can fork out (the Ukrainian Prime Minister does not abandon the plans to build a wall at the Russian border). What about making propaganda efforts go in full swing pouring fuel on the people’s fear of «Russian aggression»? In Pakistan they were willing to eat grass just to save money for going nuclear.
It cannot be excluded that not all nuclear weapons were taken out of Ukraine at the time. At least that’s what some media outlets hinted at when the calls for nuclear capability came from Ternopil meaning that some frugal military managed to hide away a certain number of missiles. The possibility is slight but if it were true one can imagine what state of operational readiness the missiles are kept in.
No doubt the Ukrainian military headed by Heletey look goofy oftentimes, that’s how they are viewed at by many. But one should not forget that there are serious people behind their backs able to calculate and see ahead what their actions may lead to. Russia has been making them exasperated recently, so they bear a grudge against it. To take revenge they may not spare all their good for nothing Ukrainian human intelligence and let it burn in nuclear fire.