Ukraine could begin developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent to future Russian invasions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could begin building a nuclear arsenal or start buying nuclear weapons to increase his country’s defences against Vladimir Putin.

After four months of fighting, which has included brutal attacks on Ukrainian civilians and the relentless bombardment of cities with heavy artillery, the conflict is no closer to being resolved.

Some 7.1 million people are said to be internally displaced within the country and around 4.8 million refugees have fled since the conflict began in February.

Vladimir Putin is also ethnically cleansing Ukraine – forcibly deporting huge numbers of people from the eastern part of the country. The Ukrainian government claims that 1.3 million Ukrainians, including 223,000 children, have been forcibly deported to Russia.

Dr Paul Maddrell, a lecturer in international history and international relations, at Loughborough, said that these brutal assaults, being carried out to help Putin achieve his three main aims – to dismember Ukraine, weaken its military and reverse the expansion of NATO – could force President Zelenskyy to consider building a nuclear deterrent.

He said: “If I were the President of Ukraine, I'd strongly be considering developing nuclear weapons.

“Ukraine had nuclear weapons in the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed. There were nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory, which became Ukraine's and Ukraine agreed to give them up to denuclearise Europe and make it a safer place.

“Well, if it had kept those nuclear weapons, Putin would not have invaded because he would have faced a nuclear attack on his country.

He added: “Zelenskyy, if he's prevented from joining NATO, may well think that the only way forward is to develop nuclear weapons - as he may do.”

Dr Maddrell said Ukraine could ask the US to sell them nuclear weapons for a reduced price.

He was speaking on the latest episode of Besieged: A podcast about Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine.

Also on the episode, Dr Maddrell discusses how Putin’s risk-taking approach to his invasion has affected his progress and the possibility of Russia becoming a satellite state of China.

To listen to the episode, visit Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazon Music, TuneIn+Alexa and YouTube.

Besieged is produced by Dane Vincent and hosted by Peter Warzynski and invites experts from Loughborough University to discuss wide-ranging issues linked to the war in Ukraine.


Ukraine’s nuclear future / E8 - Besieged: A podcast about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Download video/audio:

YouTube link:

Apple Podcasts:


Besieged: A podcast about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, TuneIn+Alexa and YouTube.

Please credit 'Loughborough University', where possible.

For further video/audio support, please contact