Russian FM Lavrov Claims Ukraine's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions Pose Serious Threat

Following the initiation of Russian military operations in neighbouring Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on March 1 that the “real danger” of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons required an immediate response.

 "Today the dangers that [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskiy's regime pose for neighbouring countries and international security in general have increased substantially after the authorities set up in Kyiv have embarked upon dangerous games related to plans to acquire their own nuclear weapons," he stated in Geneva at the Conference on Disarmament. 

"Ukraine still has Soviet nuclear technologies and the means of delivery of such weapons. We cannot fail to respond to this real danger," he stressed. This followed multiple indications by Ukrainian officials that the country was considering developing nuclear weapons. 

Ukraine formerly fielded the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, after inheriting it from the Soviet Union, although it disarmed in the 1990s and sold some associated nuclear delivery assets to Russia. 

Ukraine also inherited a sizeable missile industry from the USSR, which although deteriorating sharply over the past 30 years is still likely sufficient to develop a delivery vehicle capable of reaching major Russian cities should it acquire nuclear warheads to equip them. 

With Russian forces having already captured Ukrainian nuclear sites, the possibility remains significant that Moscow will seek assurances as part of a post-war settlement that that the country will not be able to pursue development of nuclear weapons. Ukraine's ability to develop such weapons without foreign support has repeatedly been brought to question. 

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