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Ukraine Needs Nuclear Weapons After the Russia War Is Over

Nuclear Weapons
Cold War Nuclear Weapons Test. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Post-War Ukraine Must be a Nuclear Weapons State – The Joe Biden administration has announced its latest $2.5 billion military package for Ukraine. Ukraine needs the equipment the United States will provide desperately as it continues to fight Russian aggression.

While Ukraine denied Russian President Vladimir Putin the lightning victory he expected, the Russian leader still believes he can wear Ukraine (and its Western supporters) with a war of attrition. Missing in the Ukraine package were M1 Abrams tanks, the primary system Ukrainian military leaders said they needed most as they prepared for the urban warfare needed to recapture towns and cities still under Russian occupation.

Pentagon officials—most recently Undersecretary Colin Kahl—argue that Ukraine should not have the M1 Abrams as its fuel needs would be too great.

While this is the public rationale for rejecting Kyiv’s request, the real reason appears more to be the White House belief that they can walk a tightrope between aiding Ukraine and assuring the Kremlin that it will not enable Ukraine to be a threat beyond its borders.

Fair enough, but White House micromanagement in a time of an existential threat to Ukraine, coupled with the previous betrayal of security guarantees offered Ukraine in exchange for its forfeit of legacy Soviet nuclear weapons, should cement Ukrainian thinking for the day after it liberates every square inch of its territory, from Yalta to Chertkovo.

If the world allows Russia to remain a unitary state and if it allows Putinism to survive Putin, then Ukraine should be allowed to maintain its own nuclear deterrence, whether it joins NATO or not.

Arms control experts will complain: Too often, they put the theory of deterrence above the reality of the threat that rogue states pose. But, Russia has repeatedly shown it will prey on its neighbors, and the world should never again expect Ukraine to suffer whenever a Russian leader wants to establish a legacy or distract from his own economic mismanagement and corruption. Ukraine needs the ultimate deterrence.

Nor does a nuclear-armed Ukraine necessarily undermine the current non-proliferation community. Russian leaders have repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons. Certainly, that they do so reflects both weakness and desperation.

Simultaneously, however, their goal is to force Ukraine’s supporters to self-deter. This has worked as both Germany’s refusal to provide Leopards and Biden’s rejection of Abrams show.

If the international community demonstrates that the response to an aggressor’s nuclear brinkmanship will be to ensure the victims of their aggression can, in theory, do likewise, even the most belligerent dictator may think twice.

Consider it Deterrence 2.0.

Dr. Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he specializes in Iran, Turkey, and the broader Middle East.A former Pentagon official, Dr. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, and both pre-and postwar Iraq. He also spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. For more than a decade, he taught classes at sea about the Horn of Africa and Middle East conflicts, culture, and terrorism, to deployed US Navy and Marine units. Rubin is also a 19FortyFive Contributing Editor. 

Written By

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).



  1. Tomb

    January 20, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    You are crazy and not

  2. Cheburator

    January 20, 2023 at 5:30 pm

    Another idiotic idea from you Giving nuclear weapons to a totalitarian dictatorship like Ukraine – is a plan as reliable as a swiss watch.

  3. Arash

    January 20, 2023 at 8:22 pm

    OMG Michael Rubin is such a bad… big boy!
    Watch one of his interviews to see how he fakes his deep voice, kinda like Elizabeth Holmes! Both talk completely out of their league and that’s why need fake voices!

    Let’s get this straight. If US messes with Russian security, Russia can mess with American security too.
    What are you gonna do if Russia start supplying Iran with the most advanced miniaturized thermonuclear weapon design?!
    How about countries in Latin America?! I’m sure some of those would like to have some nukes to finally be able to stand up to American bullies after more than a century of US using them as it’s own backyard.

    Don’t get over your head Michael. US is not the only country with nukes.

  4. TheDon

    January 20, 2023 at 10:55 pm

    Duhhh are you related to AOC?

  5. 3L120

    January 21, 2023 at 9:30 am

    After the breakup of the USSR, the Ukraine was the third largest nuclear power because of the nukes the Soviets left behind. As a result, the Budapest Memorandum was signed by Russia, the USA, UK, Kazakhstan (which was also left with nukes) and Ukraine. It stated that in response to Ukraine turning all its nukes in for dismantling, the other signatory nations would defend it. That didn’t work well in the Crimea, or now. I am sure that the original signers, especially Ukraine, thought this would include direct intervention. Since we are unwilling to comply with our guarantees, maybe it is time for the Ukrainians to go nuclear.

  6. Jeff

    January 21, 2023 at 10:35 am

    This is an insane idea. All we need is for Ukraine or Russia to start throwing nukes. This will be the end of the world as we know it.

  7. from Russia with love

    January 21, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    ha ha ha 🤣🤣🤣
    Most of those who read the article come to the conclusion that the author is crazy, BUT! with a very high probability, he predicts the future.😎
    after the end of the conflict and the entry of Ukraine into Russia in the format of the Western Federal District, they will definitely have nuclear weapons! within Russia.
    Have you seen the movie “Interstate 60”? “Some don’t know what to want”.🤣

  8. Ezra Teter

    January 21, 2023 at 8:07 pm

    I might consider this to be something other than rank hypocrisy if you think that all sovereign nations should have nuclear weapons but I seriously doubt that you feel that way about Iran.

  9. Arash

    January 21, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    Ezra Teter:

    No Iran should not have nuclear weapons so that they continue to live under shadow if Israeli nukes forever and under the constant threat of “all options on the table” by the USA!

    After all, they have been calling for an end to Israeli system that they (and many others) consider to be apartheid in nature. Do you want it to be 1938 all over again?!

  10. Cheburator

    January 21, 2023 at 11:52 pm

    And now, for a second, imagine the situation, and what will be the howl if nuclear weapons appear in Cuba, or let’s say Venezuela.

  11. John

    January 22, 2023 at 3:29 am

    Most countries will need their own nuclear deterrence to survive against nuclear bullies with Iran being the next one.
    Need a US President who will allow and help its allies to go nuclear. Nikki Haley 2024.

  12. Jimmy

    January 23, 2023 at 7:18 am

    Adult, with rationale of an seven year old kid. Talking geopolitics and nuclear weapons! Clown.

  13. Miroslav

    January 23, 2023 at 8:00 am

    Keep dreaming Yankee boi

  14. Anonymous

    January 23, 2023 at 8:07 am

    I want you to take a very, VERY good look at what the Russians are doing to Ukrainian western bootlickers, because that’s what the nationalists are gonna do to you and the rest of your mega-rich neocon politician filth when this is over.

  15. Ellen Thomas

    January 23, 2023 at 9:52 am

    NO ONE needs nuclear weapons, we need to get rid of them all, everywhere!!!!

    Support Eleanor Holmes Norton’s “Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act” – transform nuclear weapons industries to carbon-free, nuclear-free energy production, no one loses, everyone wins!

  16. Omar Patton

    January 23, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    More neocon CIA propaganda. Russia is not losing. Ukraine as it existed before 2014 is no more. Ukraine is a junk yard for western military equipment.

  17. Higgs Boson

    January 24, 2023 at 5:37 pm

    Dude, you are an irresponsible, war mongering, only laundering supporting twat. Let’s violate our 1990s promise not to move NATO eastward on multiple occasions, stage a coup d’etat against an elected president in 2014, conduct years of ethnic genocide against the Russians, enter into fake agreements with them (Minsk I and II), ignore their warnings about arming and putting troops in Ukraine, feign outrage and lie about why the Russians went in, send billions to a fascist dictator in Zelensky, run our own military into the ground and leave our own borders open, watch Ukraine get curb stomped, and then call for nuclear weapons for whatever is left of Ukraine. You neocons and liberals are incredibly suicidal. What a dumb idea and everything you people touch turns into a steaming pile. How about NO, you nutjob. We are tired of you reptilians.

  18. Fuge

    January 25, 2023 at 1:17 am

    This is what you get out of doily wearing NeoLibCons.

    This is why ZOG USA needs to fall.

  19. Laurelle Campbell

    January 29, 2023 at 1:18 am

    I hope you warmongers are the first to be hit when the nukes start flying.
    Neocon scum. Thanks for bringing WW3 to the rest of us so you can prop up this dying military empire.

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