Letter: West's failure to protect Bosnia persuades Ukraine to keep nuclear arms

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The Independent Online
Sir: The dropping of the Vance- Owen plan will allow Serbia to get away with its territorial acquisitions and reward those who use force in international relations. There can be no doubt that the West has now written off Bosnia-Herzegovina as a viable state.

From the point of view of the Western policy-makers, the most serious ramifications of this will be in Ukraine. For the past year, the government of Ukraine government has been under immense pressure to sign up to the Lisbon Protocol, Start 1 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Indeed, so strong has been the pressure that, on a recent visit to Washington, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Zlenko was told by President Clinton that 'a precondition to a long-term, successful relationship' between the US and Ukraine was that Ukraine should sign up to these treaties.

So far, however, Ukraine has maintained that it will not sign the treaties until such time as it receives security guarantees from the leading Western nuclear powers. Ukraine has serious security concerns that have not been taken into consideration by the West.

Russian expansionism is a widespread fear in Ukraine, however misguided this attitude may seem to the West, and until these fears are assuaged it is unlikely that Ukraine will sign the various nuclear-reduction protocols.

The West's inability to protect the Bosnians therefore will have a disastrous effect on attempts to persuade Ukraine to give up her nuclear arms.

Some Ukrainian MPs are already saying that, even were Ukraine to receive security guarantees from the West, they would be meaningless. Ukraine must look after herself, in which case nuclear weapons have to be retained.

The Bosnian episode has done immense damage to the credibility of the Western European security structures. Whether this damage will be permanent or can be repaired is yet to be seen. However, there is no doubt that Kiev believes that rewarding Serbian aggression with Western acceptance of its results will only serve to give the green light to Russian imperialists who lay claims to the Ukrainian Donbass and Crimea.

If the West continues to misunderstand developments in Eastern Europe in such a disastrous manner, a Russian-Ukrainian conflict would make the Bosnian imbroglio look like a side-show.

Yours sincerely,





Ukraine Business Review

London, SW1

1 June