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Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament

Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament

A History

Yuri Kostenko

Translated by Lidia Wolanskyj and Olena Jennings
Edited and translated by Svitlana Krasynska

ISBN 9780674249301

Publication date: 01/05/2021

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.

    —Serhii Plokhy, Five Books


  • 2021, Winner of the Translation Book Award


  • Yuri Kostenko is a politician and leader of the Ukrainian People’s Party. From 1990 to 2014 he was a member of the parliament of Ukraine and from 1992 to 1998 held cabinet ministerships with portfolios governing environmental protection and nuclear safety. Kostenko was a top-level representative of Ukraine in the negotiations with the Western powers and Russia on the denuclearization of Ukraine in the 1990s.
  • Svitlana Krasynska is an interdisciplinary scholar studying civil society developments in contemporary Ukraine with nearly two decades of executive, consulting, and research experience in the nonprofit sector. She is the coeditor of The Nonprofit Sector in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia: Civil Society Advances and Challenges and the editor of Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament: A History by Yuri Kostenko.

Book Details

  • 360 pages
  • 7-1/4 x 10 inches
  • Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
  • Introduction by Paul J. D’Anieri
  • Afterword by Paul J. D’Anieri