Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, is contemplating two resolutions to take the country out of the nuclear non-proliferation agreement. Ukraine unilaterally renounced its status as a de-facto nuclear-armed power after the breakup of the USSR, when in 1994 it signed the Budapest Memorandum. Under the terms of this memorandum, Ukraine removed all nuclear weapons from its territory to Russia in exchange for a guarantee of its territorial integrity. The guarantors were the USA, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom.
Certain members of the Rada are now claiming that with the (in their opinion) illegal takeover of the Crimea by Russia and (again in their opinion) the Russian-inspired rebellion in the Donbass region of Southeastern Ukraine, the territorial integrity guarantees have been breached rendering the Budapest Memorandum null and void. Russia maintains that the Crimean takeover was a result of a referendum in which an overwhelming majority of the peninsula’s residents expressed desire to join the Russian Federation and the situation in the Donbass is an internal Ukrainian conflict unrelated to Russia.
In the Rada members’ opinion, the only guarantee for Ukraine’s long term survival is its reinstatement as a nuclear power. The first step to that end is the exit, by the Ukraine, from the non-proliferation treaty, which it joined in 1968 as a Soviet Republic.
While widely seen as a publicity stunt by a few radical members of the Rada, the mere mention of the possible introduction of additional (Russia is already a nuclear power) nuclear weapons into a highly volatile and unstable region is a worrisome development that deserves further reporting by Western media.