Western countries that supported Ukraine’s 1994 nuclear disarmament agreement should provide more effective help against Russia, or Kyiv will re-start building up a nuclear arsenal, said Vladimir Ogryzko, a former Ukrainian foreign minister.

The only measure that could ensure Ukraine’s security is to abandon the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (TNPNW), said Ogryzko, who served as foreign minister in the government of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2007-2009.

Ukraine renounced its nuclear arsenal in 1994, when it signed the Treaty for the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (TNPNW) with Russia, the USA and the UK, relinquishing weapons inherited from the former USSR.

Through the so-called Budapest Memorandum, these countries, which later included China and France, gave national security assurances to Ukraine, and also Belarus and Kazakhstan, where Soviet weapons were stationed. The Joint Declaration by the Russian Federation and the United States of America of 4 December 2009 confirmed their commitment.

As a result, between 1994 and 1996, Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal in return for those “security assurances”.

According to the Budapest memorandum, the Russian Federation, Great Britain and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to respect Ukraine's independence and sovereignty within its existing borders.

But the Budapest Memorandum has proved of little use in the context of the ongoing crisis in Crimea. Russia has been unimpressed by warnings that its actions in Crimea violate this international treaty.

Ogryzko said that if the West doesn’t get serious about helping Ukraine following the Crimea annexation, he would advise the country’s leadership to exit the TNPNW and start the production of nuclear weapons.

The former foreign minister said this would be “the only measure which could secure [Ukraine’s] security”.

“This is not a joke, this is a serious thing… And if we keep acting as we did in the previous few weeks, the next landing of Russian paratroopers will be in Kyiv,” Ogryzko said.

It can be assumed that Ukraine has the know-how for building nuclear weapons, Ukrainian experts told EurActiv, But this is a long process, that takes time and money. During the Cold War, nuclear weapons served as a deterrent for conventional military attacks between Western nations, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries.