On Wednesday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said during an interview that he regrets having made Ukraine dismantle its nuclear program, following the invasion of the country by Russia and the war that ensued. He added that if Kyiv had been allowed to retain its nuclear weapons, then it would have been very unlikely that the war would have ensued.
The war in Ukraine has now gone on for over one year and has led to hundreds of thousands of casualties, including soldiers and civilians killed in the war efforts. In an interview with Irish news service RTÉ released on Tuesday, Clinton claimed that if Kyiv still had its nuclear deterrent, Russia would not have chosen to invade the country.
He added that for this reason, he feels a “personal stake” as he had been the one to convince Ukraine to “give up their nuclear weapons.” He continued to say that no one believes that Russia would have made such an aggressive move if Ukraine still had access to nuclear weapons.
In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the Ukrainian government agreed to give up its nuclear weapons. At the time, they possessed the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, with approximately 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads in their hands.
The comment made by Clinton closely resembles the comments made by supporters of the Second Amendment who claim that gun ownership can help act as a deterrent against violence.
Following the agreement in 1994, the U.S., Russia, and Britain assured Ukraine that they would help the country protect its borders and its sovereignty. However, Ukraine’s first president, Leonid Kravchuk, stated that, “If tomorrow Russia goes into Crimea, no one will raise an eyebrow.”