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Russia invents “nuclear weapons programme in Ukraine” storyline to justify invasion

Sunday, 6 March 2022, 07:46

Olena Roschina — Sunday, 6 March 2022, 08:46

To justify the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian propaganda machine has been spreading fake news that Ukraine has a "nuclear programme", which it alleges that the country has intensified since 2014.

Source: Interfax, RIA Novosti and TASS


Details: The three central news agencies of Russia started disseminating the misinformation simultaneously, referring to "an informed source in one of the competent agencies of the Russian Federation."

In particular, Russia is trying to justify the attack on Ukraine and the capture of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and of Chornobyl.

Quote: "Immediately after joining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1994 as a non-nuclear state, Ukraine began research and development (R&D) to create the technological basis for the possible creation of its own nuclear weapons. This work gained a clear practical orientation and intensified in 2014, after the well-known events in Ukraine and under Poroshenko's unspoken order."

Details: The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service claimed that work on the creation of a nuclear explosive device (NED), which could later be used in the construction of nuclear warheads, "was conducted using both uranium and plutonium." Allegedly, Kyiv was able to buy both the technology and the plutonium in the West.

The Russians claim that a key role in the creation of the NED was played by scientists of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, and they were assisted by colleagues from scientific institutes throughout Ukraine, including the Institute for Chornobyl Safety Issues.

According to the propagandists, the Chornobyl Nuclear Zone was used as a nuclear weapons development site, where work was allegedly carried out both on the production of "dirty" bombs and on the release of plutonium, as the Chornobyl zone's usual high level of radiation "hid such work".

It is alleged that in Ukraine, under the guise of projects with other countries, "work was carried out to modernise the existing missile weapons and create new ones that can be used as a delivery system for nuclear weapons."

"Implementing programmes in both the nuclear and missile spheres for more than two decades, Ukraine has consistently pursued the establishment of all the necessary conditions for the creation of its own nuclear weapons," say the propagandists.

 Quote: "In the context of growing tensions with Russia, the Ukrainian leadership has decided to destroy or evacuate all valuable documents stored in research centres in Kyiv and Kharkiv to Lviv - to the Lviv Polytechnic National University […]

 "Certain documents were also available at the Zaporizhzhya NPP. The skirmishes ... in the administrative premises adjacent to the NPP were most likely related to this.

 "Kyiv's implementation of its extremely dangerous ‘nuclear Ukraine’ project could become a reality in the near future. The negative consequences of the danger of these works are difficult to overestimate."

 Why this is important: Ukraine had never declared a resumption of nuclear status. On the eve of the invasion, on February 19, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that if Ukraine’s security is not guaranteed, it would have the right to "consider that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and question the entire package of decisions made in 1994."

 Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately used this to his advantage, adding the nuclear threat to the absurd arguments he put forward for the recognition of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and the start of the war against Ukraine, which Russian propaganda refers to as a "special operation."

In 1991, Ukraine had the world's third largest nuclear arsenal, but the country gave up its nuclear status on 2 June 1996.

The 1994 Budapest Memorandum provided security guarantees for Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The document was signed by Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Russia has been taking aggressive action against Ukraine since 2014, when it occupied part of Ukraine’s territories, and on 24 February 2022 it launched a full-scale invasion.