As we all know, nuclear weapons are an important strategic deterrent for a country. In order to maintain its threat to the United States, the Soviet Union produced a large number of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, some of its nuclear weapons and equipments were divided up by the major allied countries on the principle of proximity. Among these countries, Russia has obtained the most weapons and equipments due to its very large territory. After Russia, Ukraine received the most numbers of weapons that included nuclear weapons, long-range strategic bombers, etc.
Ukraine’s land area is only 600,000 square kilometers, which is equivalent to one-fifth of India. However, the Soviets has made a lot of industrial development in Ukraine. At that time, the two aircraft carriers built by the Soviet Union and the world’s largest transport aircraft An-225, a large number of the most advanced T-80 main battle tanks and so on remain in Ukraine, not only that, Ukraine also has the Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau, the Antonov Design Bureau, the Lurica Saturn Design Bureau, and the Southern Design Bureau.
Among them, the Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau has produced the most advanced T-64 and T-80 series tanks in the Soviet Union, the Antonov Design Bureau is the Soviet Union’s top passenger and transport aircraft design bureaus, and the Saturn Design Bureau is responsible for supplies of most of the Soviet Union’s large aircraft and engines. The Southern Design Bureau was responsible for the manufacture and designing of ballistic missiles. It can be clearly said that Ukraine’s military industrial heritage was very rich and comprehensive at that time.
However, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Ukraine also inherited the debts of the Soviet Union. In addition, the economic lifeline of Ukraine was controlled by oligarchs at that time, causing the Ukrainian economy to be hit hard. One of the two aircraft carriers was snatched by Russia, and the other was bought by China. The powerful Tu-160 bombers and 60 Tu-22M was destroyed. The shipyard and weapons factories were closed.
At the time of its independence from the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine had the third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. Things, however, changed when the country became a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1994 alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan, the other two countries that were left with nuclear weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At the time of U.S.S.R. dissolution, Ukraine had an estimated 1,900 strategic warheads, 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), and 44 strategic bombers, according to the Arms Control Association of the U.S.
Ukraine transferred its last nuclear warhead to Russia in 1996 and dismantled its last strategic nuclear delivery vehicle in 2001.
Budapest Memorandum: The Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances is a political agreement between Ukraine, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. It was signed in 1994.