Ukraine not worth nuclear war – former Reagan adviser
The US has nothing to gain from a nuclear-armed Ukraine, and should work to bring the conflict there to a “speedy close,” Doug Bandow, a former assistant to President Ronald Reagan, wrote on Thursday. His warning came after a Polish MEP suggested the West should give Kiev nuclear weapons.
Radoslaw Sikorski, who served as Poland’s foreign minister between 2007 and 2014, told Ukrainian TV last week that “the West has the right to give Ukraine nuclear warheads.” Sikorski argued that as Moscow allegedly violated the 1994 Budapest Memorandum – in which Russia, the US and the UK promised to “respect the independence and sovereignty” of Ukraine in exchange for Kiev surrendering its nukes – Ukraine’s backers could now send these weapons of mass destruction to Ukraine.
“The fact that a once-serious political figure would advocate turning the ongoing conflict into a nuclear confrontation demonstrates how dangerous that conflict has become,” Bandow wrote in the American Conservative. According to Bandow, Ukraine knew when it signed the Budapest Memorandum that its security guarantees depended on the UN Security Council, on which Russia has a permanent seat.
“Ukraine’s opportunity passed long ago,” he continued, arguing that transferring nuclear weapons to Kiev at present “would risk turning an already terrible conflict into a true catastrophe.”
“Moscow has more at stake, and therefore always will be willing to pay and risk more. The US has nothing at stake that warrants risking Kiev’s nuclear annihilation,” Bandow wrote.
This position is similar to that of former President Barack Obama, who despite his State Department overseeing a violent coup against Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014, told an interviewer two years later that Ukraine “is a core Russian interest but not an American one, so Russia will always be able to maintain escalatory dominance there.”
“Now, if there is somebody in this town that would claim that we would consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, they should speak up and be very clear about it,” Obama said.
While Sikorski’s nuclear idea has thus far been a non-starter, and has led to a sharp rebuke from the Kremlin, the US and its allies continue to underwrite Kiev’s military costs. After passing a mammoth $40 billion package of military and economic aid for Ukraine last month, US President Joe Biden announced an additional $1 billion in arms for Kiev’s beleaguered forces on Wednesday.
Yet behind the apparent blank check for Ukraine, rumors are circulating that the US and its Western allies may soon push Ukraine to sue for peace. A recent CNN report claimed that officials in Washington, London and Brussels are meeting without their Ukrainian counterparts in an effort to plan a ceasefire and peace settlement, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also claimed that unnamed foreign parties have been trying to “push us a little” toward a deal with Moscow.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has raised the prospect of Ukraine surrendering some territory in exchange for peace, an idea also floated by former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger last month.
According to Bandow, the Biden administration should put “a premium on attempting to bring the Russo-Ukrainian war to a speedy close. The longer it continues, the greater the harm to Ukraine, threat to Europe, and danger to America. And the more people might be tempted to try extreme ideas like Sikorski’s.”