Ukrainian authorities hold the view that the nation’s prospects of developing nuclear weapons are extremely limited, citing two key factors.
On August 4, Aleksey Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, acknowledged that the country faced significant challenges in producing its own nuclear weapons. In response to whether Ukraine could reclaim the nuclear status it lost after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Mr. Danilov stated that the possibility was unlikely due to both political and technological obstacles. He pointed out that Ukraine’s previous stockpile of intercontinental ballistic missiles was a complex matter. Nonetheless, Mr. Danilov mentioned instances where non-nuclear nations had reportedly hosted nuclear weapons on their soil, with the backing of NATO allies. The prospects of Ukraine reacquiring nuclear capabilities remain uncertain, given the intricate nature of the issue.
He admitted uncertainty about the possibility in Ukraine, emphasizing that Kyiv would encounter significant obstacles if attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.
Danilov’s statements diverged from those of Aleksey Arestovich in June, a former adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, who suggested Ukraine could rapidly build its nuclear arsenal with existing fissile materials.
Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Ukraine inherited a portion of nuclear warheads and infrastructure. In 1994, Kiev relinquished these arms in return for security assurances from the US, UK, and Russia through the Budapest Memorandum.
Nevertheless, Russia has asserted that Western intervention in Ukraine’s internal matters has weakened the treaty in recent years.
In early 2022, prior to Russia’s military intervention, Zelensky hinted that Ukraine might reconsider its commitment to nuclear disarmament, citing the Budapest Memorandum’s lack of both nuclear weapons and security for Ukraine.