Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nationalism and Nukes Ukraine's Leonid Kravchuk Seems Determined to Hold onto His Nuclear Card, and the US Should Be Just as Determined to Make Him Relinquish It

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nationalism and Nukes Ukraine's Leonid Kravchuk Seems Determined to Hold onto His Nuclear Card, and the US Should Be Just as Determined to Make Him Relinquish It

Article excerpt

THE world received an implied threat of nuclear blackmail last month from a country whose president - supported by an Army infiltrated by officers loyal to the current regime - maintains an iron grip on the government and the economy.

North Korea? Libya? Iraq?

Hardly. The culprit is one of the newest members of the international community, Ukraine. President Leonid Kravchuk recently announced that he would not honor agreements to transfer nuclear missiles of the former Soviet Union to Russia unless Ukraine received payment for the fissionable materials in the weapons. The Ukrainian price for this "accommodation" - although it is better characterized as extortion - is in the range of $5 billion to $6 billion dollars, despite the fact this is 25 times the actual market worth of the uranium in the warheads.

Both President Bush and President-elect Clinton should act quickly and in concert. For while European and American attention has been fixed on Yugoslavia, an even more ominous situation has been developing in the former Soviet Union. The world has welcomed the dramatic changes brought about by Russian President Boris Yeltsin; now it is time to confront and oppose the policies of President Kravchuk, and America must take the lead.

We cannot treat Russia in isolation, nor can we assume any longer that Russia speaks for members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Ukrainian policies are irresponsible and dangerous. They threaten the stability of Europe as well as the course of reform in Russia and the other republics.

There is growing evidence that Ukraine is intent on becoming a first-rate conventional military power. The Ukrainian armed forces will number nearly a half-million by 1994 and are already equipped with Soviet arms from tanks to state-of-the-art fighter aircraft. The Ukrainians are also aggressively commandeering personnel for their new military from all branches of the former Soviet military. They deport any commonwealth officers who refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Ukraine.

Most worrisome are signs that the Ukrainians are looking for a loophole in their agreement to centralize nuclear weapons under commonwealth control and eventually transfer the weapons to Russia, which was acknowledged even within the commonwealth as the USSR successor state. Even before the latest nuclear threat, Ukraine tried to enforce its loyalty oath among personnel of the commonwealth strategic nuclear forces located on Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainians refused to allow the Russians to deactivate Ukrainian missiles. All this prompted strong protest from General Iurii Maksimov, commander of the commonwealth's nuclear forces, who told Isvestia last summer that the previous dispute over ownership of the Black Sea fleet will "look like child's play compared with the struggle for possession of the strategic nuclear missiles" in Ukraine. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.