Abstract: Following the end of the Cold War, the states of the former Soviet Union were host to a vast array of nuclear weapons. However, unlike most other states, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan hosted strategic nuclear weapons, of which precise ownership may be seen as opaque. This has led to three decades of remonstration that Ukraine, in particular, should never have given up "its" nuclear weapons. However, due to the nature of the USSR, the weapons were in Ukraine by imposition, not by invitation, and decrying their 'loss' has been a fool's errand, the fulfilment of which would have hamstrung the nascent Ukrainian state politically, financially, and militarily.
Problem statement: How to understand the claim that Ukraine should have kept nuclear weapons it did not own in light of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the consequences of Russia's invasion?
Bottom-line-up-front: Ukraine did not own the nuclear weapons on its territory and, as a consequence of accepting their removal, threw off a tremendous financial and political burden.
So what?: Abandoning such arguments enables us to protect the NPT and to seek real solutions to real problems. Furthermore, abandoning these arguments makes us focus on what we can do for Ukraine today rather than what we should have done in the past.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union between the years of 1989-1991, a strategic security dilemma arose across the newly emerging states of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia: what to do with the Soviet stockpiles of nuclear weapons in these countries. By the end of 1991, these weapons were spread across fifteen separate states: Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
However, since the mid-1990s, a vein of thought has persisted that suggests that Ukraine gave up "its" nuclear stockpile. And that it was an error to do so. This argument can be seen in frequent public references to the 'Budapest Memorandum'. It often emerges when there is a spike in tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Yet, in the discourse on Ukraine, commentators frequently overlook that the Memorandum was part of a series of three, covering weapons in three countries — Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
Interestingly, there seems to be a lack of discourse on whether Belarus or Kazakhstan should have kept the weapons that were on their territory. Yet, as Lawrence Freedman notes, in the case of Ukraine, there is a perception of irrelevance regarding the security provisions of the Memorandum. This feeling of irrelevance has led many to observe that Ukraine should have kept the weapons to use as its own deterrent in the hope that Russia would never invade. However, Freedman astutely notes that this reasoning is problematic given that in the mid-1990s, with its economy in ruin, and a pressing need to make friends internationally, it was in no shape to operate such weapons.
There seems to be a lack of discourse on whether Belarus or Kazakhstan should have kept the weapons that were on their territory. Yet, as Lawrence Freedman notes, in the case of Ukraine, there is a perception of irrelevance regarding the security provisions of the Memorandum.
The argument that Ukraine gave up a nuclear arsenal has been shared not only within the general public and academic spheres but even in high political circles. An example of the latter is found in the former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, who, for example, argued that Ukraine becoming a nuclear power "again" would be an act of irresponsibility. He went on to note that a united Ukraine could win [against Russia in 2014] if the world demonstrated solidarity with Ukraine. Whilst at present Ukrainian unity and world—well, Western—solidarity look likely to have put Ukraine on the path to victory, Poroshenko's use of the phrase “again” harkens back to a past—like Brexit, MAGA America, and the Russkiy mir—that never existed.
Ukraine and the Bomb
Reasoning that Ukraine relinquished a nuclear arsenal infers that, like post-Apartheid South Africa, Ukraine possessed a nuclear stockpile, which it then relinquished of choice. However, within its own abilities, South Africa conceived, constructed, and controlled a nuclear arsenal in all phases and at all levels — Ukraine did not. Ukraine gained independence with a sizeable Russian force present on its territory — something tolerated until the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and exists until today.
The phrase 'on its territory' is likely the culprit for most confusion, as it seems that there is an understanding that presence equals property or possession. However, this is erroneous, both in a general sense — one does not assume ownership of a friend's coat or wallet because it is in one's house — and in the specific understanding of the situation in Ukraine in the early post-Cold War period. We can contextualise this with perhaps an uncouth example from present-day Ukraine; Russia currently occupies Crimea and several other Oblasts; however, just because Russia occupies and has made claims to these areas does not mean that Russia owns them. The essential issue here is one of a lack of mutual agreement. In this sense, an agreement can be arrived at either through coercion, compellence, or collaboration, but for ownership to be effected, there must be conscious agreement on who owns what. Whilst Russia may claim a legal right to 'protect' Russian speakers in its "near abroad", such perceived ties of kinship have no clear standing in international law; as Malcolm Shaw notes, “[p]ersonal ties of allegiance may exist but these may not necessarily lead to a finding of sovereignty”. In other words, Russia’s claims to the occupied areas of Ukraine, on the (practically dubious) grounds of protecting the population, are not strong enough to warrant a legitimate claim. For such a claim to stand, it would need some element of agreement from Ukraine.
Just because Russia occupies and has made claims to these areas does not mean that Russia owns them.
To contextualise this, we can return to Crimea for a moment; modern Ukraine inherited Crimea from Russia in 1954 through an act of socialist solidarity between the Ukrainian and Russian SSRs of the Soviet Union. This agreement was amicable to all parties. Therefore, it was legitimate, following international law.
However, due to Russian centrality in the Soviet Union, the placement of nuclear forces in Ukraine was just that — placement in Ukraine. Those forces were never ceded to the state on independence. Joseph P. Harahan underlines the issue excellently; in his history of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programme, he notes that the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus "agreed on organisation and structure of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Armed Forces, they soon differed over the meaning of operational and administrative controls over the rocket armies and air divisions. They differed on who owned the military bases, missile silos, test ranges and strategic weapons". [However] "In Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, the rocket armies, missile divisions and bomber commands were led by Russian generals, operated and maintained by Russian officers and men. They were controlled from higher headquarters in the Russian capital for their personnel, funding, communications, nuclear safety standards, security systems, and even their operational targets.Their professional loyalty was to Russia, but their armies and commands were located in another nation's territory" [My Italics]. This point was reiterated by Polina Sinovets and Mariana Budjeryn when they noted that the Soviet military establishment was, in general, exceptionally secretive, centralised, and tightly controlled by the authorities in Moscow and that the nuclear arm, the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) were even more so.
In Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, the rocket armies, missile divisions and bomber commands were led by Russian generals, operated and maintained by Russian officers and men. They were controlled from higher headquarters in the Russian capital for their personnel, funding, communications, nuclear safety standards, security systems, and even their operational targets.
More to the point, as Sinovets and Budjeryn note further, there was a great deal of doubt about the utility of the bomb to Ukraine, especially in the format of post-Soviet weapons on its territory. Herein, Ukraine would have taken control of a fleet of missiles fuelled with a corrosive and toxic liquid fuel that would have left Ukraine beholden to Russian maintainers for a fleet of missiles the Ukrainians did not fully control. Moreover, the dubious utility of such weapons was underscored by no less a figure than then-Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, who stated that "Ukraine can become a hostage of its own missiles, they can be more dangerous than Chernobyl."
With this in mind, it becomes absurd to argue that Ukraine had any meaningful ownership of such weapons. To perpetuate this myth—true to the legacy of nuclear deterrence theories—serves to ignore reality for the sake of fantasy.
The Soviet Legacy
In the early days of the post-Cold War, great efforts at international diplomatic horse-trading resulted in the consolidation of all Soviet nuclear weapons within Russia; with Ukraine's accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in December 1994, the desired goal of having a single nuclear weapons state (NWS) successor to the Soviet Union was achieved. Yet, before this success, the international community went to great lengths to secure the Soviet stockpile. Part of this success was built through collaboration between Russia and then, afterwards, the newly independent states of the CIS and the U.S. Whilst it might not look like it, the coalescing of nuclear weapons in Russia under the CTR was probably one of the great geopolitical success stories of the 1990s.
Given current difficulties, the concept of Ukrainian nuclear weapons is understandably espoused today as a counterfactual hope for a future that could have been. As we have seen with the example of Poroshenko above, this is not a recent occurrence — Maria Rost Roblee was possibly unknowingly prophetic when she noted that the argument that Ukraine holding onto a nuclear arsenal would have prevented the then annexation of Crimea, not to mention the present war across all of Ukraine was somewhat intuitive.
However, the idea of a Ukrainian bomb is erroneous, for if we look at the nitty-gritty of the end of the Soviet Union, we can see that, as was common in the Cold War, the Soviet Union was synonymous with Russia. This holds true when we consider that Moscow was the centre and all of the 'autonomous' SSRs as beholden to Moscow. The USSR as Russia can be further understood through Russia's absorption of the Baltics in the 1940s, of parts of Ukraine in the 1920s, or the fact that the Caucasus was ceded to the Russian Empire by the Ottomans. Considering Russian expansionism and its vitality in the communist world, it would be easy — if one were of a flippant bent — to argue that the true meaning of the initials USSR was the Union of States Subjugated by Russia.
The idea of a Ukrainian bomb is erroneous, for if we look at the nitty-gritty of the end of the Soviet Union, we can see that, as was common in the Cold War, the Soviet Union was synonymous with Russia.
Considering Russia's propensity for conquest, and in light of the deplorable situation unfolding in Ukraine today, it may be unpleasant to state that within the confines of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was a Russian vassal. Gerard Toal's assertion reinforces this — in specific reference to Ukraine — all decisions within the Soviet Union "were made by a small ruling elite within an imperial power structure headquartered in Moscow, with little consideration of local sentiment or the coherence and legitimacy of the resultant polities. Soviet Ukraine was designed in Moscow from territories conquered and controlled by the Red Army: calculations at the top of the Kremlin power vertical trumped all others".
Under such conditions, we must accept that the nuclear arms on Ukrainian territory were on its territory by imposition, not by invitation. We must further admit that just as with the conventional forces that had occupied the constituents of the former Soviet Union — and Warsaw Pact — the Soviet nuclear arsenal was de facto, if not de jure, Russian. In supporting the Russo-centric nature of the Soviet strategic forces, the subtitle of Steven Zaloga's 2002 classic The Kremlin's Nuclear Sword, The Rise and Fall of Russia's Nuclear Forces, 1945-2000, is illuminating. Perhaps one could argue that Zaloga — or an editor — is making a Freudian slip of sorts here; however, the acceptance of such a faux pas in the work's title only reinforces the point that nuclear weapons in the Soviet context were purely Russian. With this in mind, the concept of Ukrainian ownership of nuclear weapons is flawed, as would be the concept of Lithuanian, or for that matter, Polish nuclear weapons.
Just as with the conventional forces that had occupied the constituents of the former Soviet Union — and Warsaw Pact — the Soviet nuclear arsenal was de facto, if not de jure, Russian.
Of course, all of this confusion stem in the physical sense from the fact Ukraine had nuclear weapons on its territory. Moreover, we must not forget that before its dissolution, the Soviet Union also deployed nuclear weapons in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary֫ — not to mention Cuba. However, NATO did (and does) deploy nuclear weapons to Türkiye and Belgium — this did (and does) not make Türkiye and Belgium NWSs', and like Ukraine, neither state controls the nuclear weapons on their territory; therefore, it is logical to follow that nuclear weapons in Ukraine did not make Ukraine an NWS. From this, we can argue further that Ukraine, in the nuclear sense, was more akin to the nations of the Warsaw Pact and NATO, which contained, but did not control, nuclear weapons. Thus it should be clear that Ukraine did not own nuclear weapons.
To further dispute Ukraine's status as an NWS, we must acknowledge that Ukraine did not formally claim ownership of the Soviet arsenal on its territory until November 1993, when the Ukrainian Rada attached such a claim to its instrument of accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This claim came two years after Ukrainian independence, and at this time, Ukraine was busy preparing for accession to the NPT. However, this claim of ownership rings hollow when we accept that the Rada was in the process of overwhelmingly ratifying Ukraine's accession to the NPT and as a Non-Nuclear Weapons State.
This gesture's impracticality and purely symbolic nature did not go unnoticed at the time. Thus, it is feasible that Ukraine was attempting to be like South Africa and wring as much diplomatic cloth as possible out of its NPT accession with this last-minute claim to ownership. However, the futility of this gesture is something that becomes clear with the fact that the Ukrainian Rada eventually accepted accession to the NPT as a Non-Nuclear Power.
Ukraine's belated claim is problematic for various reasons. Firstly, Ukraine had been independent since 24 August 1991. Yet, on 27 September of that year, U.S. President George H.W. Bush, worried about the security of the Soviet arsenal, addressed the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to inform him that the U.S. would unilaterally reduce its nuclear arsenal. Bush called on his Soviet counterpart to do likewise. Bush did not call on the leaders of the newly-independent states of Ukraine or Belarus to join in securing the Soviet stockpile. Likely, Bush did not call on Ukraine or Belarus to participate because the U.S. administration understood that weapons operated and controlled by Moscow were the property of Moscow. As noted by Secretary of State James Baker, there was a fear in the Bush administration that there was a risk that the break-up of the Soviet Union could lead to a 'Nuclear Yugoslavia'. Whilst one may argue that Yugoslavia was not Russia, we must remember that there was open civil war within several states of the former Soviet Union itself.
Bush did not call on the leaders of the newly-independent states of Ukraine or Belarus to join in securing the Soviet stockpile. Likely, Bush did not call on them to participate because the U.S. administration understood that weapons operated and controlled by Moscow were the property of Moscow.
Furthermore, restricting Ukrainian claims, in July 1992, Russian officials confirmed that strategic weapons in Ukraine were in 'deep freeze'. Further to this point, Pavel Podvig notes that in the early post-Cold War period, Kazakhstan and Belarus agreed that all the nuclear weapons in their territory were Russian property. However, whilst Ukraine belatedly declared those weapons in its territory as Ukrainian property, we have already seen the nuclear warheads on Ukrainian territory remained under actual Russian control; and they were subsequently transferred to Russia.
In the preceding paragraph, we have a U.S. president addressing the Russian president regarding its nuclear weapons in three states; we see that Russia controlled these weapons; in two out of three instances, the possessors accepted that the weapons were Russian property. The question then becomes, how, given all this, could Ukraine have owned a nuclear stockpile? Well, the answer is it did not — it is not hyperbole to state that Ukraine, despite claims, did not own any nuclear weapons and consequently did not get rid of ‘its’ arsenal.
The False Promise of Nuclear Security
In the general field of nuclear weapons, there is a pervasive ignorance of the fact that neither nuclear deterrence theories nor nuclear war planning have any real foundation in reality. That is to say, for all of the cognitive capital we as a species have expended on the nuclear endeavor, we have little to show. We actually do not know what will happen in the event of nuclear war; we are to borrow Fred Kaplan’s phrase ‘dancing in the dark. Yet, despite this, as Kaplan notes, there exists a core belief in certain circles of absolute certainty of the utility of nuclear arms, and this certainty brings us hope. For an excellent example of this in the Ukraine context, we look no further than John Mearsheimer. Mearsheimer, in 1993, argued that nuclear possession would somehow guarantee Ukrainian security. This argument is problematic, as it does not account for the fact that a significant portion of the Ukrainian population is — or at least was — Russophone and somewhat Russophile. As such, Russia had a ready-made ‘entryist' element in Ukrainian society, as we would see through the personage of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian military units who turned over to Russia in 2014, not to mention the dissidents in the Donbas.
Mearsheimer, in 1993, claimed that a Ukrainian nuclear weapons arsenal was "imperative to maintain peace between Russia and Ukraine", arguing that "Ukraine cannot defend itself against a nuclear-armed Russia with conventional weapons, and no state, including the United States, is going to extend to it a meaningful security guarantee".
Obviously, history has shown him to be mistaken; he ignores the fact that if Ukraine were to maintain a nuclear arsenal, it is unlikely that the Russians would agree to a nuclear-armed Ukraine, outside the format of the Alma-Ata Protocol, whereby the Russians maintained operational control and launch authority. The problem with such a format is that it would not provide Ukraine with a sovereign deterrent. More to the point (harking back to the earlier point entryism), this would likely have come with an additional burden of substantial numbers of Russian troops based in Ukraine — troops that could serve as a nucleus for a military intervention of the type we saw in Sevastopol in 2014. In 1991, there were an estimated 30,000 troops of the SRF in Ukraine; this begs the—albeit counterfactual—question: with a similar number scattered throughout a Ukraine, hamstrung by the loss of CTR funds and burdened with the cost of maintaining a nuclear force, even partially—would Crimea have been the only annexation in 2014? To view this another way, could an already strained Ukrainian military further burdened with the cost of a nuclear deterrence have prevented the annexation of Crimea or the 'dissident-led' uprisings in Donetsk and Luhansk? Given the difficulty the Ukrainians had in 2014, this seems unlikely—even more so when we consider the costs that Ukraine incurred to stabilise (not resolve) the situation in the east in 2014. Ukrainian defence spending jumped from 2.5 per cent of GDP in 2013 to about 5 per cent totalling about $6 billion in 2014. To put this into context, the cost of operating the UK nuclear deterrent in 2013 was roughly £2.4 billion or approximately $3 billion. Around the same time, the cost of running the French nuclear deterrence was thought to be €3.4 billion. It is worth noting that the size of these arsenals was 225 and 280 weapons, well below the size of the Soviet remnants in Ukraine.
The problem with such a format is that it would not provide Ukraine with a sovereign deterrent. More to the point, this would likely have come with an additional burden of substantial numbers of Russian troops based in Ukraine — troops that could serve as a nucleus for a military intervention of the type we saw in Sevastopol in 2014.
What is worth noting is that the average number of warheads held by NWS other than the Russians and the U.S. is 185, a number not too far off that of the UK. Thus it is easy to imagine that such a high cost would be burdensome for Ukraine. One might argue that this is a false comparison as UK/French deterrents are sea-based; however, whilst this may make them more expensive to maintain, a sea-based deterrent is considered more survivable and, therefore, more of a considerable deterrent for an aggressor; thus begging the question beyond the financial cost, would a Ukrainian nuclear deterrent built upon the partial remnants of a Soviet system, without SSBNs, even be credible? The answer is likely no.
Arguing that Ukraine should not have given up "its" nuclear weapons—or even that Ukraine should or could become a nuclear-armed state—only offers oversimplified impossible answers to exceptionally complex questions. It ignores the fact that in the early 1990s, the entire former Soviet Union was an economic basket case riven with internal ethnic strife, deprivation, and destitution, not to mention widespread corruption. It may be unpalatable in present times to say that the U.S. and Russia were right to seek to consolidate all Soviet arms in Russia. Yet, it is hard to see how Ukraine, Belarus, or Kazakhstan could have maintained such extensive and expensive nuclear arsenals.
Had each state kept these weapons, it is probable that they would have reduced the size of the stockpile in each country — the total stockpile (tactical and strategic) in Ukraine, for example, in 1991, was 4,335 warheads. To contextualise this, the UK, in 1991, had a stockpile totalling 350 warheads maintained — as seen above — at high cost and great effort.
It is unlikely that Ukraine or the other states party to the Budapest Memorandum could have juggled the cost of maintaining an arsenal and simultaneously covered the costs of downsizing. Remembering the opportunity costs of maintaining a nuclear force are important in the post-Soviet context, as it is forgotten today that besides the security guarantees received in the Budapest Memorandum, each state was the beneficiary of financial largesse, which enabled the removal and destruction of weapons in each country. The Cooperative Threat Reduction programme, also known as the Nunn-Lugar programme, earmarked $400 million annually for the destruction of nuclear weapons systems in the former Soviet Union. These funds allowed for the provision of tools, the building of facilities, and the safe disposal of the toxic materials—radioactive or otherwise—that were present in these weapons. Without CTR funds and oversight, there is a possibility that these weapons would have been disposed of haphazardly and in a manner that posed a great danger to life.
It is unlikely that Ukraine or the other states party to the Budapest Memorandum could have juggled the cost of maintaining an arsenal and simultaneously covered the costs of downsizing.
Beyond the cost of downsizing—which would have been both financially painful and necessary, there is no way of knowing if Ukraine had decided to actually take ownership of these weapons, that Russia would have allowed this to happen, or if the Ukrainians could put them to use due to lack of funds, personnel, or satellite capability — though, as Freedman notes, given time, they could have figured something out.
Additionally, we must ask, to what purpose would these weapons have served? As noted, the cost burden of such systems would have been outsized, given the paucity of Ukraine's defence budget. However, when considering the budgetary issues, we must remain cognizant that opportunity cost is an opportunity lost. It is unlikely that Ukraine could have prevented the loss of Crimea, as it was already home to thousands of Russian personnel and threatening nuclear action against Moscow to remove forces from the region seems far-fetched, especially when we consider it was home to many Ukrainians with loose national affiliations. Furthermore, we see in the present conflict that the use of subtle nuclear threats has neither stopped western nations from arming Ukraine nor stopped Ukraine from taking the offensive in spectacular fashion.
In the 'breakaway' regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, it is hard to see what use nuclear forces would have played in these contexts. Would Ukraine have been able to credibly threaten Moscow into stopping the actions of separatists? This, too, seems unlikely given that these regions were disaffected industrially and home to a sizeable Russophile community.
In a vein similar to Russian manipulation in UK, French, and U.S. politics, nuclear weapons in Ukraine would not have stopped local low-level tensions and lawlessness from simmering nor being manipulated or exploited by Russia. A nuclear-armed Ukraine would likely have reduced defence, intelligence, and law enforcement capacities due to the economic and defence costs of maintaining the nuclear force it never had.
In the 'breakaway' regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, it is hard to see what use nuclear forces would have played in these contexts.
We must ask ourselves what best suits Ukraine and the world: a nuclear-armed Ukraine or a conventionally armed Ukraine? Despite the high cost of the war on Ukraine, the cost of a nuclear war could be significantly higher. Local nuclear war, be it between Ukraine and Russia, India and Pakistan, or Israel and its neighbours, is likely to be exceedingly bleak. The clamour for a Ukrainian deterrent overlooks this fact. Furthermore, such ideas help to erode the nuclear taboo and the NPT and, as the path to hell is paved with good intentions, clamour for a nuclear Ukraine runs the risk of normalising nuclear weapons use and acceptance within international discourse. As responsible actors, we must not allow this to happen; we should finally put this argument to bed and focus on what can be and not what could have been — Ukraine doesn't need nebulous nuclear nostalgia; it needs Naval Group, Nammo, and Northrop Grumman.
As Churchill might have said, give them the tools and let them do the job.
Dermot Nolan is an independent researcher with interests in land power, nuclear weapons, and independent air power. He holds a Master's degree in Military History and Strategic Studies and a second in International Relations and International Security. He has spent 12 years in the Reserve Defence Forces (Ireland), where he served in the Artillery Corps. The views contained in this article are the author's alone.
 Marco De Andreis and Francesco Calogero, The Soviet Nuclear Weapon Legacy, SIPRI Research Report No. 10, SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, (Stockholm, 1995) 3.
 For some recent examples of this, see Eric Brewer, Nicholas L. Miller, and Tristan Volpe Ukraine Won’t Ignite a Nuclear Scramble, Why Russia’s War Might Boost Nonproliferation, Foreign Affairs, November 17, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/ukraine-wont-ignite-nuclear-scramble or Jack Kelly, ‘Despite the Threat it Faces, Ukraine Was Right to Give Up its Nuclear Weapons’, German Marshall Fund, see also Jeremy Black, A Military History of the Cold War, (Norfolk 2015), 216. February 22, 2022, https://www.gmfus.org/news/despite-threat-it-faces-ukraine-was-right-give-its-nuclear-weapons.
 Lawrence Freedman, Ukraine and the Art of Strategy, (Oxford, 2019) 98.
 Ukraine has no ambitions to become nuclear power again–Poroshenko, Interfax Ukraine, 13 December 2014, https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/239730.html.
 I write these words in the feint hope that by the time this goes to press, they shall have proven to be a hostage to fortune and that Russia will have ceased to possess these areas and all claims to ownership will be seen for the nonsense they are.
 Malcolm N. Shaw, International Law, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2008), 491.
 The transfer of Crimea to Ukraine was undertaken, according to Gerard Toal to mark the “300-year anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav, wherein a Cossack parliament declared unity with Muscovy, with the transfer presented as a symbolic gift by an elder to a junior brother-nation. While there were supplemental economic and geographic reasons for the move, the surface symbolism about “friendship” between the two “brother” Soviet republics underscored the prevailing conceit of the Soviet Union as a postimperial state formation. Gerard Toal, Near Abroad, Putin, The West, And the Contest Over Ukraine And The Caucasus. (Oxford, 2017) EPUB, Ch.2, 96.
 Shaw, International Law, 493. Shaw argues that [t]he granting of independence according to the constitutional provisions of the former power may be achieved either by agreement between the former power and the accepted authorities of the emerging state, or by a purely internal piece of legislation by the previous sovereign. The transfer of Crimea to Ukraine through a piece of ‘internal legislation’ is therefore legitmate.
 Joseph P Harahan, With Courage and Persistence, Eliminating and Securing Weapons of Mass Destruction with the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, (Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 2014), 23.
 Polina Sinovets and Mariana Budjeryn, Interpreting the Bomb Ownership and Deterrence in Ukraine’s Nuclear Discourse, NPIHP Working Paper #12, (Woodrow Wilson Center, December 2017), 3.
 Ibid., 15.
 Maria Rost Roblee, Fantasy Counterfactual: A Nuclear-Armed Ukraine, Survival (March, 2015), 145.
 For analysis of Russian expansionism, see Toal, Near Abroad, Ch.1, 40-86. See also, Vladislav M. Zubok, Collapse, The Fall of the Soviet Union, (Yale, 2021) 162-164.
 Toal, Near Abroad, Ch.6, 256.
 Mariana Budjeryn uses the term ‘inherited’ when discussing the Ukrainian nuclear situation in both 2014. ‘The Breach: Ukraine’s Territorial Integrity and the Budapest Memorandum.’ Woodrow Wilson Center NPIHP, September 2014, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/issue-brief-3-the-breach-ukraines-territorial-integrity-and-the-budapest-memorandum and ‘Was Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament a Blunder?’ World Affairs, Volume 179, Issue 2, pp.9-20. https://doi.org/10.1177/0043820016673777.
 Marco De Andreis and Francesco Calogero, The Soviet Nuclear Weapon Legacy, SIPRI Research Report No. 10, SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, (Stockholm, 1995), 18.
 Michael Dobbs, Ukraine Claims All Nuclear Weapons On Its Territory, The Washington Post, July 3, 1993, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1993/07/03/ukraine-claims-all-nuclear-weapons-on-its-territory/03c6e15b-39c8-4f28-a281-e73212db0821/.
 Richard Rhodes, The Twilight of the Bombs, Recent Challenges, New Dangers, And the Prospects for A World Without Nuclear Weapons (New York, 2010), 137.
 For a brief discussion of the fear of nuclear civil war in the post-Soviet space, see Steven J. Zaloga, The Kremlin’s Nuclear Sword, The Rise and Fall of Russia’s Nuclear Forces, 1945-2000, (Washington 2002), 215-216.
 Richard L. Garwin, Post-Soviet Nuclear Command and Security, Arms Control Today Vol. 22, No. 1, LOOSE NUKES SPECIAL ISSUE (January/February 1992), 22.
 Pavel Podvig (ed) Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (London, 2001), 24.
 Fred Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon, (Standford, 1983), 470.
 John J. Mearsheimer, The Case for a Ukrainian Nuclear Deterrent, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/1993-06-01/case-ukrainian-nuclear-deterrent.
 Freedman, Ukraine and the Art of Strategy, 140.
 Claire Mills, Esme Kirk-Wade, The cost of the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent, Research Briefing Number 8166, House of Commons Library,(London,25 May 2022), 6.
 Patrice Bouveret, Nucléaire militaire La bombe, c’est combien?, Sortir du Nucleaire Spring, 2013. https://www.sortirdunucleaire.org/La-bombe-c-est-combien.
 Federation of American Scientists, Status of World Nuclear Forces 2022, https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/.
 Marco De Andreis and Francesco Calogero, The Soviet Nuclear Weapon Legacy, SIPRI Research Report No. 10, SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, (Stockholm, 1995), 5.
 Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, The British nuclear stockpile, 1953-2013, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 69(4) (2013), 70.
 Harahan, With Courage and Persistence, 17.
 Lawrence Freedman, Ukraine and the Art of Strategy, (Oxford, 2019), 96.
 For example, it is argued that a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan would lead to 50-125 million deaths. See: Alan Robock et al., How an India-Pakistan nuclear war could start—and have global consequences, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (2019), Vol. 75, No. 6, 273–279.