When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world—larger than those of Great Britain, France and China combined. Intricate negotiations ensued in bilateral channels, followed in 1993-94 by a trilateral U.S.-Ukrainian-Russian process. That process successfully negotiated the removal of the weapons, with Ukraine receiving security assurances, compensation for the value of the highly-enriched uranium in the nuclear warheads, and assistance in eliminating the nuclear delivery systems and infrastructure that it had inherited.
On May 9, the Arms Control Initiative at Brookings hosted a panel discussion on the trilateral process, specifically the challenges and key factors that produced a successful outcome. Panelists included Pavel Baev, research professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo; Borys Tarasyuk, Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) deputy and former foreign minister; and Steven Pifer, senior fellow and director of the Arms Control Initiative. Brookings President Strobe Talbott moderated the discussion. The event marked the release of a new Brookings Arms Control series paper “The Trilateral Process: The United States, Ukraine, Russia and Nuclear Weapons.”
After the program, the panelists took audience questions.