Academic journal article McNair Papers

5. the Defacto Process: The U.S.-Ukraine-Russia Talks

Academic journal article McNair Papers

5. the Defacto Process: The U.S.-Ukraine-Russia Talks

Article excerpt


The new Clinton "administration approach to Ukraine was facilitated by the fact that approaches to the nuclear weapons issue had already taken two roads. There was the legal ratification issue that the Rada had to settle--and that was the most visible irritant in the bilateral relationship. But on an informal level, as a result of Ukrainian-Russian negotiations, as well as U.S-Ukrainian-Russian discussions, a formula and a process for deactivating the Ukrainian warheads were being worked out as well as a process for dismantling and shipping them to Russia. In this milieu, the administration believed it was on the road to achieving de-nuclearization and that it was important to push the technical talks, which stayed out of the realm of parliamentary oversight. Given these developments, the administration had an incentive to change its rhetoric toward Ukraine and believed it could gain greater leverage on the nuclear issue by doing so. The process had started early on, before the Clinton administration had come into office.

Defense Minister Morozov believed as early as February 1992 that nuclear weapons were not a viable choice for maintaining Ukraine's independence. He believed that a strong conventional force would be the best alternative and exerted his energies in this direction. At this stage the nuclear issue was being dealt with at the executive levels of both governments and thus was being handled as a technical rather than a political issue. It moved into the latter domain in May. With Ukraine balking at having Russia as the sole representative of the nuclear weapons, the Bush administration had allayed Kiev's concerns by having Ukraine become part of the

START Treaty by its signing of the Lisbon Protocol, thereby mandating a parliamentary ratification. And, while the debate in the Rada raged, the Ukrainian government worked the technical issues of dismantlement with the United States and Russia.

The SSD talks, which aimed at settling the issues of liability and technical matters related to dismantlement, had commenced in the winter of 1992, and continued into the Clinton administration, when agreement was reached late in 1993. During the winter of 1992, Ukraine also held discussions with U.S. firms regarding the actual mechanics of missile dismantlement, including what would be done with the missile fuel. has April 1992 Kiev raised with a U.S. firm the question of dismantlement at civilian reactor sites as an alternative to shipment to Russia, which turned out not to be feasible.

More importantly, in October 1992 Undersecretary Wisner led a delegation to Kiev that addressed a broad range of security and nuclear issues. Thus started a serious discussion on moving forward on the deactivation of missiles even while the START ratification issue was still being debated.

In November, the Embassy discussed with the Foreign Ministry the proposal Wisner had delivered for the deactivation of the nuclear missiles, including defueling of the liquid fueled missiles and removing the front sections of the missiles. These steps were aimed at implementing a procedure that would normally be required as part of the elimination process once START was ratified and implemented. In addition, under this offer, the United States was prepared to discuss financial and technical assistance to help in the early deactivation. The United States emphasized its willingness to pursue this and the other proposals on a priority basis and to do so in discussions with both Ukraine and Russia.

The United States and Russia were already deactivating ICBMs and SLBMs that were slated to be eliminated under START, and the U.S. proposal was geared to bring Ukraine on board even before Kiev's ratification of the treaty and its coming into force. In the Clinton administration, Wisher, who had moved over to the Defense Department to become Undersecretary for Security Affairs, before going on to be Ambassador to India, continued to pursue the deactivation proposal. …

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