OPINION | If Ukraine does not give up all its nuclear weapons

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Editor’s note: Carlos Alberto Montaner is a CNN writer, journalist, and contributor. His columns were published in dozens of newspapers in Spain, the United States and Latin America. Montaner is also vice president of Liberal International. The opinions expressed here are entirely theirs.

(CNN Spanish) – In 1991, during the administration of President George HW Bush (the father, to be clear), the Soviet Union (USSR) collapsed. That is good news for the West, but not everything is perfect. Despite the fact that, under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 and entering into force in 1988, both the United States and the Soviet Union were committed to eliminating nuclear and conventional short and medium-range ballistic missiles in the zone of influence, Russia concluded that no acceptable to dispose of all materials. Let’s remember that it was Trump who withdrew the US from this treaty in 2018, alleging that there were some violations of the treaty by Russia.

On January 20, 1993, Bill Clinton took office in Washington. Among the problems he inherited from President Bush was what to do with the nuclear weapons possessed by the satellite states of the former Soviet Union. There is one that is uniquely equipped: Ukraine. There are 1,900 nuclear warheads there. It is the third country with the most atomic weapons. After the United States and the Soviet Union, no one, not even Israel, Britain, or France can match them.

It had strategic silos and fearsome aircraft capable of destroying any American city of more than 50,000 people with 400 to 550 kiloton bombs, 27 to 37 times more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, according to senior researcher Steven Pifer’s article “Order from Chaos. Why care. with Ukraine and the Budapest Memorandum”, published by the Brookings Institution.

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With all due reverence, before the scrutiny of the United States and Britain, Russia and Ukraine signed the Budapest Treaty or Memorandum. There, all parties pledged to respect Ukraine’s borders and boundaries, which was its recognition of sovereignty over the entire territory in 1994, and, although not mentioned, this includes the Crimean peninsula and the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, along Russia. border, full of ethnic Russians who speak Russian and not Ukrainian. In addition, it was stipulated that Ukraine would receive payment for the expensive enriched uranium that was in the head of the projectile, reusable in nuclear power plants, which was supplemented by the destruction of silos and the dismantling of aircraft.

However, in 2014 Yeltsin was no longer in charge of Russia but Vladimir Putin, who seized from Ukraine, the manu militari, the Crimea region and the city of Sevastopol, and started a war in the Donbas region which, by the end of 2021, had caused 14,000 deaths and 1, 5 million displaced. Putin violated the Budapest Memorandum, which prompted an international response, perhaps because Ukraine is the largest segment of the mix that suppresses nationalist anxieties in the region.

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It is clear that nuclear weapons serve, among other things, to prevent invasion. If India and Pakistan are not involved in total conflict, it is because of the atomic bombs that both countries have. And if North Korea has the luxury of threatening South Korea, where some 28,500 US troops are stationed, it’s because of its nuclear weapons. Today, Ukraine may regret giving up all its atomic weapons.

I don’t think Putin would “swap” Moscow and St. Petersburg to completely destroy Ukraine. Of course, he could finish off Ukraine and leave no stone unturned, but he wouldn’t be able to prevent the country’s two existing capital cities as well as its political head from being destroyed. Or maybe something else. That is breathing and living life. And you don’t play with it.

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