In December 1994, Ukraine gave up the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world and signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, having received assurances that its sovereignty would be respected and secured by Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Based on original and heretofore unavailable documents, Yuri Kostenko’s account of the negotiations between Ukraine, Russia, and the US reveals for the first time the internal debates of the Ukrainian government as well as the pressure exerted upon it by its international partners.
Kostenko presents an insider’s view on the issue of nuclear disarmament and raises the question of whether the complete and immediate dismantlement of the country’s enormous nuclear arsenal was strategically the right decision, especially in view of the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s sovereignty under denuclearization.
A really, really interesting story, almost unknown in the West…Nuclear weapons were Ukraine’s security, and they gave it up because the US and Russia were working together…What has happened to Ukraine since it was disarmed has and will have a negative impact on the global story of denuclearization. Countries are going to think twice next time someone comes along proposing to give them a piece of paper in exchange for their nuclear weapons.
An interesting and timely document that will be of great interest not only to Ukraine scholars but also to the scholars of national security and global nuclear politics.
An absorbing read, providing historical insights on the demise of the Soviet Union, the emergence of independent Ukraine, the management of its relations with Moscow and the West, and challenges and pitfalls of diplomacy from a position of weakness. It contains important lessons for the management of today’s proliferation challenges in North East Asia and the Middle East.
A story of David (new-born Ukraine) versus Goliath (Russia), with a fierce domestic debate in the political sphere in Ukraine—less so in the societal sphere—between actors with different beliefs and interests…Crucial in light of the current happenings, already at the beginning of the 1990s one could discern indications that it was extremely important to Russia that Ukraine would remain within its sphere of influence.
Revealing…Drawing on the parliamentary and executive government portfolios that Kostenko held during the 1990s, the book lays out a picture of the intense domestic and international political struggles that prompted Kiev to give up the bomb that some Ukrainians today wistfully believe could have deterred Russia from gobbling up Crimea while fomenting separatism in the country’s east.
Yuri Kostenko has written a superb book explaining why Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in the mid-1990s, leaving itself without a deterrent against Russia. He shows in fascinating detail that pressure from Moscow and Washington left Ukraine with little choice but to surrender its nuclear arsenal. Kostenko directly ties that fateful decision to the war that broke out between Russia and Ukraine in 2014, in which Ukraine was largely defenseless and the United States, which had promised to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty, sat on the sidelines. The implicit message of Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament is clear: there is no substitute for a nuclear deterrent when you live in a dangerous neighborhood.
Yuri Kostenko’s rich, cogent, and well-sourced insider account of Ukraine giving up the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal in the 1990s shows how power asymmetries and state-building affect international political outcomes in nontrivial and counterintuitive ways—with the security dilemma engendering hasty unilateral disarmament; costly commitments demanded from weaker rather than stronger states; and democratic peace falling short of its promises even with the endorsement of the world’s most powerful democracies. A must-read for students of international politics, the book explains how authoritarian adversaries can leverage America’s security concerns of the day to subvert fledgling democracies and why support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and integration with the West is in America’s vital long-term national interest.
Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament is the definitive account of the fateful decision to unilaterally dismantle the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal. Yuri Kostenko was the consummate insider, with privileged access to the actors and arguments that led to a decision whose legacy continues to haunt Ukraine’s future. Not only does he produce a wealth of new material, some previously classified; he disposes of the myth that the opponents of this decision wished to maintain Ukraine’s nuclear status. Until now, the straw man of ‘nuclear-armed Ukraine’ has impeded critical thought about whether more could have been done to ensure ‘effective disarmament.’ Kostenko’s detailed and engrossing account will enlighten and disquiet in equal measure.
Even readers who believe that Ukraine never had a realistic chance—technically or politically—of emerging as a full-fledged nuclear weapons state in the 1990s will find Yuri Kostenko’s book extremely illuminating. Having served as Ukraine’s minister of environmental protection and a member of the Ukrainian parliament during the protracted debates on the nuclear issue, Kostenko provides a richly detailed insider’s account that underscores the importance of political divisions within Ukraine in shaping the outcome. These divisions, he contends, gave greater leverage to external actors and prevented Ukraine from pursuing the kind of deal he favored: a deal that would have given Ukraine more robust security guarantees and greater financial compensation in exchange for relinquishing all the nuclear missiles left on its territory after the demise of the Soviet Union.
- 2021, Winner of the Translation Book Award
- 360 pages
- 7-1/4 x 10 inches
- Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
- Introduction by Paul J. D’Anieri
- Afterword by Paul J. D’Anieri
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.