The nuclear disarmament of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine was one of the great success stories of the end of the Cold War, and it was one of the most significant victories for the cause of nonproliferation.
When the Soviet Union ceased to exist, these newly independent states had to manage the problem of the Soviet nuclear legacy left behind in their lands. Their disarmament was bound up with their status as independent, sovereign countries as they sought and needed to be integrated with the rest of the world. The commitment of the non-Russian republics to disarm saved the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and upheld the principles of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and their eventual disarmament is one of the underappreciated achievements of U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War era.
While all three states were always willing to get rid of the nuclear weapons they had inherited from the Soviet Union, the paths that they took to disarmament were somewhat different with respect to the terms and timing of removing these weapons and their delivery systems from their territories. The Ukrainian case is the most involved of the three, and because of the war in Ukraine it is also the most salient today in current debates about disarmament and nonproliferation. It is therefore fortunate that there is a new book that can expertly guide us through this complicated and important history.
Mariana Budjeryn’s Inheriting the Bomb: The Collapse of the USSR and the Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine is an excellent study of how the process of disarmament unfolded. Läs artikel