But let's not start with the presidents. And with a recent quote that again led to discussions on Ukraine's nuclear status. This quote belongs to the diplomat, Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany Andriy Melnyk:
"Ukraine has no other choice: either we are part of an alliance like NATO and do our part to make this Europe stronger, or then we have the only option - to arm ourselves and perhaps think about nuclear status again."
The nuclear status, or rather its loss, possible restoration, and, in general, the Budapest Memorandum, which led to the loss of this status, has been talked about since the first years of Ukraine's independence. Such conversations intensified in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of an armed conflict in Donbas.
Today we will focus on quotes from key people in decision-making in independent Ukraine. That is, on quotes from presidents. Each of them dealt with this topic in one way or another.
Zelensky and nuclear weapons
Interview with American Axios program, February 2021
“I understand that nuclear weapons are very bad. But if Ukraine had nuclear weapons now, if we had not made such a big mistake then, and I believe that this is a mistake for today, then there would be no invasion, and we would have their territories. Because we could always speak on an equal footing with the Russian Federation and with the whole world.”
“I believe that this (the signing of the Budapest Memorandum - ed.) Is a big mistake. After all, any world diplomatic agreements since the moment when the Budapest Memorandum is not implemented are multiplied by zero. And no matter what we sign next, no matter what the countries agree on , there will always be a risk that someone will say that this is some kind of piece of paper and it is not necessary to carry it out.”
Poroshenko and nuclear weapons
Speech at the PACE plenary meeting in Strasbourg, October 2017
“Russia, along with the UK, the United States, France, and China, were guarantors of our sovereignty and territorial integrity within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum when Ukraine gave up the third-largest nuclear arsenal. If we had not given it away, do you think Russia would have attacked us? Of course not "But we do not want the return of the nuclear arsenal, on the contrary, we believe that the non-proliferation system is the path to global security.”
Yanukovych and nuclear weapons
Speech at the plenary session of the UN General Assembly, September 2012
“We insist security guarantees for states that abandoned their nuclear arsenals and made other strategic concessions should be reflected in legally binding international documents... We voluntarily renounced the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal, we respected our word and this year, the last reserves of highly enriched uranium were completely removed from the country.”
Yushchenko and nuclear weapons
During his tenure, Viktor Yushchenko doubted that Ukraine acted logically by surrendering nuclear weapons.
After the cadence, in an interview with Gordon, February 2018:
"We gave up the nuclear arsenal, and when faced with a threat to territorial integrity, no one can give us a revolver. Today we have a hot phase of the war - we are exactly where we started three years ago."
Kuchma and nuclear weapons
Interview with Radio Liberty, August 2018
“[The mistake was] the way we renounced nuclear weapons and signed the Budapest Memorandum without real security guarantees from all the great powers. a policy of this level may be empty promises that such hypocrisy and cynicism are possible.”
Kravchuk and nuclear weapons
Interview to Channel 24, August 20, 2019
"We were put directly in front of a choice - either we lay down nuclear weapons, or they will put economic pressure on us, including applying sanctions."
Commentary for Ukraine 24, April 15, 2021
"There are clear definitions of the foreign policy course. It does not contain a position on the restoration of nuclear status. There are other positions that are very important for Ukraine today. This is the unity of Europe ... But there is no position on the restoration of nuclear status."