Report: Ukraine DM Threatens to Restart Nuclear Weapons Program

Says Nukes Are Alternative to NATO Not Sending More Arms

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey has been claiming NATO shipments of weaponry to the military since the weekend, as part of what he called a secret deal during the Cardiff summit. He wants more now.

Heletey insisted that his country wants major increases in weapons shipments from NATO, and threatened to order a nuclear weapons program if the shipments weren’t big enough and fast enough, on the grounds that only nukes could stop the “Russian invasion.”

Ukraine inherited some nuclear arms from the Soviet Union’s dissolution, but gave them up as part of the 1994 Budapest agreement. Since the protester-imposed regime change earlier this year, the new government has repeatedly threatened to restart the program.

It is unclear, however, whether Ukraine’s shaky economy and struggling industrial base could even sustain a costly new nuclear weapons program, nor does it seem likely that Russia would stand idly by while they did so if they were creating the arms openly to target Russia.

The threat is almost surely an empty one, and aims at extorting arms out of NATO. Yet it could backfire, and eliminate NATO’s pro-Ukraine policy pretty quickly.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.