As Russia’s illegal invasion into Ukraine passes two years, debates rage in the US and Europe regarding further support. “Funding fatigue” has set in, and opposing voices grow louder. There is, however, an extremely important reason to support Ukraine that many do not realize. Failing to support Ukraine now will create a far more unstable and dangerous future world. The reason: a rapid growth in nuclear proliferation. 

Background: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, included 5 nuclear powers and 189 state parties. The landmark treaty was an international effort to stem a global nuclear arms race, as many nations had begun pursuing nuclear weapons given their dominance in warfare. Since inception, most nations have adhered to the treaty, minus some well-known violators. For context, it’s important to understand that many non-nuclear nations were enticed to sign onto the treaty based on assurances provided by their nuclear capable strategic partners. For example, NATO nations would rely on the US, UK, and France – all nuclear powers.  

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Specific to Ukraine, the US president and UK prime minister (as well as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan) signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum providing security assurances for Ukraine to surrender its nuclear arsenal. While not a treaty, clear expectations of security were afforded. More importantly, current US and European leaders have strongly vocalized their support.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has made thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons as he warns the West against its support for Ukraine, which Moscow invaded more than two years ago.

To stem a global run on nuclear weapons, the “nuclear nine” politicians and diplomats may offer incentives to inhibit such efforts, but given current events, that cost compared to further Ukrainian aid will look like chump change.

Observing the war, the concept of “western security guarantees” leaves many nations unimpressed. To date, fiery political rhetoric has been backed up by halfhearted and limited support. Not only has aid been slowly dripped into Ukraine, many needed weapons (ATACMS, Taurus cruise missiles, air assets, etc.) have been limited or non-existent. Two key conclusions are being drawn:

  • US/Western security guarantees are near worthless against a nuclear power.
  • Possessing nuclear weapons assures sovereign existence.

Exacerbating the situation, some US political leaders are threatening to balk at NATO commitments because of some allies’ underfunding and a tiredness with regard to the US role of world police force. Both those facts are true, but if Americans choose isolationism, they should expect to live with the ramifications. 

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Currently, nine nations have nuclear weapons. World leaders presuming nuclear security blanket protections from allies now realize that’s a fallacy. Given a nation’s top priority is self-preservation, many will invigorate efforts to develop and secure nuclear weapons. 

To stem a global run on nuclear weapons, the “nuclear nine” politicians and diplomats may offer incentives to inhibit such efforts, but given current events, that cost compared to further Ukrainian aid will look like chump change. 

Should the US and Europe fail to support Ukraine and spiral further into isolationism, it’s probable dozens of nuclear nations will hatch. And who could blame them? As a former senior military officer and senior US diplomat, managing global security was challenging enough with nine nuclear nations. It’s mind-boggling to imagine a world with three or four dozen. And once that genie exists, there’s no way to put it back in the bottle. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position or policy of the of the Department of Defense or the US Government – nor are they necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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Colonel Jeffrey H. Fischer (@jefffisch on X/Twitter) is a 30-year military aviator, and electronic warfare officer with seven combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans. He also served as a senior diplomatic defense official at numerous embassies. Jeff holds a master’s degree from the National Defense University and is the author of the Curt Nover Thriller Series, available globally on Amazon.

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Comments ( 1)

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John
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The author hits the nail on the head of what the failure to support Ukraine will result in. Both many EU and the UK have been existentially treated by putins regimes, leading members of which have treated as a result of their aid to Ukraine to feel these done countries to the ground or flood them with a nuclear instigated tsunami. They tried their best to freeze the EU into submission. Not counting Simonyan, Solovyov & Medevev's near weekly nuclear threats, Putin's has made nuclear threats at least 15 different times in the last 2 years.

If the USA bails on Ukraine post a possible MRGA putinrump election, it leaves its European continent allies at great risk. Their 2 nuclear capable nations (France , UK) have comparatively much smaller arsenals than Russia. Equally concerning is that some of the other EU nations presently hosting the USA's current nuclear deterrence against russia, may find these unsupported under a putin friendly putinrump government. Do they even have the firing codes or are those solely USA owned?

The other nuclear nations (India, Pakistan, Israel, NK, China...probably Iran) have made it clear they will not help the EU / UK. Even in their claimed "neutrality" their state sponsored sanction busting in essence supports russia.

Europe must ramp up its own defence capability. With MRGA's rise in the USA this becomes a pressingly prudent decision

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