How Ukraine gave up its nukes, and why this made it vulnerable - with Mariana Budjeryn

June 8, 2023

In 1994, Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons it had inherited from the Soviet Union. It was invited to sign the Budapest Memorandum with Russia, the UK, and the US, which was supposed to give Ukraine security assurances.

Russia broke these assurances first in 2014, and then in 2022, by invading and occupying Ukraine. Since 1994, Ukraine has found itself in a security vacuum, which, directly or indirectly, invited Russia to attack.

  • Ukrainian philosopher Volodymyr Yermolenko speaks to Mariana Budjeryn, Senior Research Associate at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center. Mariana is the author of the recent book "Inheriting the bomb. The Collapse of the USSR and the Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine."

In this episode, we talk about the genealogy of the Budapest Memorandum, its consequences for today's war, Russia's nuclear blackmail, and lessons for the future.

Thinking in Dark Times is a podcast series by UkraineWorld. This series seeks to make Ukraine and the current war a focal point of our joint reflection on the world's present, past, and future. We try to see the light through and despite the current darkness.

UkraineWorld ( is brought to you by Internews Ukraine, one of the largest Ukrainian media NGOs.

Support us at