New Publication: Yuri Kostenko Details Ukraine's Nuclear Disarmament

December 5, 2020
Mockup of Ukraine's Nuclear Disarmament book

Ukraine's Nuclear History coverThe Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University is pleased to announce the publication of Ukraine's Nuclear Disarmament: A History by Yuri Kostenko. The book outlines the factors at play that led Ukraine to reliquish its nuclear arsenal by signing the Budapest Memorandum in 1994, questions whether it was the right choice, and considers how the decision affected the intervening years.

Kostenko is intimately familiar with the subject. As Ukraine’s Minister of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety from 1992–1998, he participated in the negotiations between Ukraine, the Western powers, and Russia regarding Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament. Originally published in Ukrainian, the work was translated into English by Lidia Wolanskyj, Svitlana Krasynska, and Olena Jennings, and edited by Krasynska.

In his introduction, Paul D'Anieri contextualizes the book and its significance:

Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament is significant in several respects. First, it provides an inside look into the politics that shaped Ukraine’s policy on this crucial issue. It affords us a detailed look into Ukrainian politics in the earliest months of independence. Second, it provides a documentary history. Kostenko includes excerpts of debates and documents that have not previously been available in English. It is both a primary and a secondary source. Read as a mixture of memoir, history, and polemic, as it must be, it provides a great deal of insight, as well as a great deal to argue about.

As D'Anieri notes, recent events in Ukraine—starting with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea—"loom over the analysis," making this publication particularly timely. Could Ukraine have bargained for a better deal? Would Russia have been so bold, had Ukraine remained a nuclear power? What are other states learning from Ukraine's experience? 

Book description:

In December 1994, having received assurances that its sovereignty would be respected and secured by Russia, the United States, and United Kingdom within the Budapest Memorandum agreement, Ukraine gave up the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world and joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, endowing the nonproliferation regime with substantial momentum.

Based on original and heretofore unavailable documents, Yuri Kostenko’s account of the negotiations between Ukraine, Russia, and the US reveals for the first time the internal debates of the Ukrainian government, as well as the pressure exerted upon it by its international partners.

Kostenko presents the Ukrainian view on the issue of nuclear disarmament and raises the question of whether the complete and immediate dismantlement of the country’s enormous nuclear arsenal was strategically the right decision for ensuring its sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially in view of the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, one of the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum.

9780674249301 (hardcover) 
9780674250864 (EPUB)
9780674250871 (Kindle) 
9780674250888 (PDF)

Learn more and order

Go to the book's webpage to read excerpts, praise, and the Table of Contents, as well as to place an order.