8 March 2014.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the newly independent Ukraine had
on its territory what was the third largest strategic nuclear weapons arsenal
in the world. It was larger than those of Britain, France, and China combined.
On June 1, 1996 Ukraine became a non-nuclear nation when it sent the last
of its 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantling. The
first shipment of nuclear weapons from Ukraine to Russia (by train) was in
March 1994. In return for giving up its nuclear weapons, Ukraine, the
United States of America, Russia, and the United Kingdom signed the 1994
Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, pledging to respect Ukraine
territorial integrity, a pledge that was arguably broken by Russia's 2014
invasion of Crimea.
Between March 1994 and June 1996, about 2,000 nuclear munitions of strategic
weapon systems were removed from Ukraine to Russia for disassembly. In all,
considering tactical weapons, about 5,000 nuclear munitions were moved to
Russia in almost 100 trains. On June 2, 1996 Ukraine officially lost its
As Mr. Obama noted, it would also be a blatant violation of Russias
commitments, including the 1994 Budapest memorandum, in which Moscow pledged
to the United States and Britain that it would respect Ukraines
independence and borders in exchange for the removal of its nuclear weapons.
It could create another chronic trouble spot in Europe particularly
as Crimeas population includes a large minority of Ukrainian speakers
as well as Crimean Tatars, a Muslim group that rejects Russian rule.
7 March 2014
Belbek Air Base Standoff
March 3, 2014
Belbek airbase was the scene of a tense standoff in Crimea on Tuesday morning.
Around 200 unarmed Ukrainian soldiers confronted troops believed to be Russian,
but with no identifying insignia, who were restricting access to the compound.
The armed troops warn them not to come closer or they will shoot.
The Ukrainian officer calls for calm whilst the armed troops respond saying
it is a provocation.
He replies that the Ukrainians are unarmed and wish to enter the base to
do their jobs.
After strained negotiations the two groups decided on a joint patrol of the
With many Ukrainian troops stationed inside the barracks, wives and relatives
waited anxiously outside for news.
Adding to the surreal atmosphere, some Ukrainians began to play football
under the watchful eyes of the occupying force, before heading to barracks
a few kilometres away.