The collapse of the Soviet Union gave rise to a huge number of geopolitical, military-strategic and economic problems. Many of them make themselves felt to this day and will have an impact on both the countries of the “post-Soviet space” and the relations between them for a very long time.
Nevertheless, if some of the processes for the "division of property" between the former Soviet republics had gone according to a different scenario than what happened in reality, everything could have been much more deplorable. Imagine, for example (adjusted for today's realities), Ukraine, which has a nuclear potential. But everything could have turned out that way ...
Atomic brake for Washington
Few people know about this, but the most powerful nuclear "shield" not only protected the Soviet Union and the countries that were members of the Warsaw Pact for decades from any aggressive encroachments of our enemies from NATO. It also became an obstacle in the way of those representatives of the West who wanted to launch the process of the disintegration of our country according to the worst, chaotic and completely uncontrollable scenario. The fact is that by 1991, among the true "architects of perestroika", for the most part located overseas, two not just different, but, one might say, antagonistic currents began to take shape more than distinctly. Representatives of the former believed that the USSR was already doomed (and they were, alas, right in this) - the events in the same Baltic states, and in other union republics, showed that the extremely weakened, disoriented and drowned in its own verbiage, the Center had already decidedly not able to. The "parade of sovereignties" was in full swing, and Gorbachev and his entourage were clearly not able to stop it. Therefore, as those we are talking about insisted, the West should act according to Nietzsche's principle: "push the falling one."
The USSR and its would-be leader should simply be deprived of any form of support, and while drinking whiskey by the fireplace, wait until the country collapses by itself. And then - even a deluge on 1/6 of the land. By the way, as far as we know, the then US President George W. Bush adhered to this very point of view, being strongly encouraged by his own advisers and consultants to break off all relations with Gorbachev, who, in fact, had already played his role as chief Judas and did everything to destroy his own country what I could.
I will not say for sure how much truth is in the story about the top-secret meeting, which was allegedly held at the Bush estate before the planned G1991 meeting in London in 7, but a number of sources indicate that the discussion was very serious there. And it was on it that adherents of a different view of the situation made themselves known. “Yes, the USSR should be destroyed,” they argued, “however, this should happen exclusively in a“ soft ”format, under the full control of the“ world community ”. The process should be carried out under the leadership of those "national leaders" who can be at least somewhat trusted.
As the main justification for their own position, the supporters of this approach cited the thesis about the presence on the territory of the Soviet Union of a significant number of nuclear charges not only of a strategic, but also of a tactical level. It’s their “spread” not only within the framework of the “post-Soviet space” that was already beginning to form, but literally all over the world, and American analysts were afraid. “Mr. President, who do you want to see an atomic bomb from in three to five years, if not earlier ?! Colombian cartels? The Afghan Taliban? Saddam Hussein or Iranians ?! " - Presumably, Bush was asked questions of approximately this nature. Mr. President was deeply spit on the fate of tens of millions of Soviet people (which he himself has repeatedly spoken about), but to find one fine morning a nuclear mine on the lawn in front of the White House, he certainly did not smile. Washington has set a course for maximum extension political agony of Gorbachev and the Soviet Union - just enough to have time to take quite concrete actions.
Disarm at any cost
Let me remind myself of the chronology of the main events that took place in the framework of the implementation of the West's plan to transform the future "post-Soviet space" into a territory with the maximum nuclear-free status. Returning on July 18, 1991 from the London G7 summit, Gorbachev, in fact, brought nothing but a heap of very attractive, but completely empty in their essence promises. Our country was going to be granted "observer status" in the GXNUMX itself, other international organizations, and also promised "expansion of cooperation" with the IMF and EBRD, which was to be expressed in "granting the USSR technical and consulting assistance for an early transition to a market the economy". The only concrete initiative - a twofold increase by the EBRD for the Soviet Union of its three-year credit limit of $ 70 million - was torpedoed by the United States and Japan. At the exit - a sea of verbal rubbish and not a cent of real money ...
However, even this absolutely ghostly "carrot" had to be paid immediately - on July 31, 1991, George W. Bush arrived in Moscow, with whom Gorbachev signed the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START-1). This agreement was a continuation of previous similar agreements, concluding which Moscow, in fact, made concession after concession to Washington and NATO. By 1986 (the famous "Bear in Reykjavik" summit) Gorbachev agreed to reduce our missiles, not taking into account the arsenals of the US allies in the North Atlantic Alliance, but he was still trying to link this agreement with the ABM Treaty. By 1989, the Soviet side abandoned this condition, and also agreed to "close its eyes" to the US deployment of new sea-based cruise missiles. In a word, they agreed to everything except the wedding ...
START-1 was signed a few months before the collapse of the USSR and the treacherous conspiracy in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. After its implementation, the world saw with horror that henceforth the third and fourth places in the list of countries with the largest nuclear arsenals on the planet were occupied (albeit purely hypothetically) by Ukraine and Kazakhstan! Kiev received more than 1200 individually guided warheads, and Alma-Ata more than a thousand. The number that at that time exceeded the nuclear potential not only of China, but of Britain and France, and taken together. Yes, at the end of 1991, the aforementioned republics, as well as Belarus, on whose territory there were also atomic weapons, an agreement was signed on joint control over them. At the beginning of 1992, within the framework of the CIS, intentions were even announced to create a Joint Command of Strategic Forces.
However, in reality, by that time, the "nuclear suitcase" was already in the hands of Boris Yeltsin. The latter, of course, declared a promise that “the decision to use nuclear weapons can only be made by agreement with Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus,” but the true cost of such promises was clear to everyone ... At the same time, strategic missiles caused the West has the least concern - the insurance against the fact that they will be let into the business of "local cadres" was quite reliable. Not to mention the launch codes, which would have taken an unknown number of years to "bypass", the warheads were kept in disarmed form, and to bring them into a condition suitable for use, not only special equipment was needed, but also the work of the relevant specialists of the highest category. With tactical charges, the decision on the use of which could be made at the level of the district commander, the situation was much more complicated. In any case, this is what Washington and Brussels thought.
How Kiev became rich with a bomb
Among the documents recently declassified by Langley, there is a message citing former CIA Director William Webster about an attempt by local extremists in Azerbaijan in February 1990 to seize a storage facility of just such ammunition on the outskirts of Baku. The most interesting thing is that in some domestic sources this story is confirmed, and even with very unpleasant details - like torture, with the help of which the terrorists tried to get the "activation codes" from the captured commander of the unit. Fortunately, the special forces arrived in time, and the failed owners of the atomic bomb received a bullet to the head instead of codes. Be that as it may, but the armed conflicts that began to flare up already from the end of the 80s of the twentieth century on the outskirts of the country prompted the 12th Main Directorate of the USSR Ministry of Defense, responsible for the storage and conservation of nuclear weapons, to begin large-scale operations to remove their most dangerous types from the territories of the "fraternal republics".
The first on the list was (quite naturally) the Caucasus, then the Baltics, Moldova and Central Asia. They were in no hurry with Ukraine, and, as it turned out, in vain. It was Kiev that subsequently acted as the main nerve-maker in the process of the "nuclear divorce" which had been dragging on for many years. The United States absolutely did not need poorly predictable and not under their full control "non-foreigners" with an atomic bomb. An absolutely unambiguous condition was set before the leadership of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan: joining START-1. Otherwise - no help, neither political, nor, especially, material. At the same time, there were two options: nuclear weapons could remain in their current bases, but they would automatically turn into Russian military bases. Or - it is exported to the territory of our country. In any case, the new states were to accept START-1 as non-nuclear.
The corresponding protocol was resignedly signed by representatives of Kiev, Minsk and Alma-Ata in Lisbon on May 23, 1992. There they also committed themselves to acceding to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as countries that have renounced it forever. We must pay tribute to the Belarusians and Kazakhs - they fulfilled their obligations rigorously, not arranging hysterics and cheap blackmail. Well, and Ukraine would not be Ukraine if it did the same. At the same time, in the “fundamental document” regarding their own “non-profitability,” the Declaration of State Sovereignty, adopted back in 1990, the local politicians clearly and unambiguously prescribed the country's non-nuclear, non-aligned and neutral status. Fresh legend ... 176 ICBMs with 1240 nuclear warheads and four dozen strategic bombers with a thousand cruise missiles capable of carrying such, seemed to Kiev too tasty morsel, which is simply stupid to give "for so".
At first, the then President Leonid Kravchuk (the one who is now negotiating on Donbass) balked, suddenly "worried" that the missiles sent to Russia "would fall into the wrong hands." In fact, it was an excuse to start putting forward both Russia and the United States all the new absurd demands generated by the croaking green "national animal". Nazalezhnaya began to extort some kind of "security guarantees", concessions on all controversial points of relations with Moscow, and first of all - money, money, and again money. The local Verkhovna Rada, meanwhile, began to famously "edit" the text of START-1, stating that it would ratify it only in the version that would leave Ukraine the right to renew its membership in the "nuclear club". Kravchuk was replaced at the presidency by his namesake Leonid Kuchma, and the degree of impudence of Ukrainian claims was not only increasing, but not decreasing. Ultimately, the amount of "compensation" Kiev claimed increased to almost $ 3 billion. Otherwise we won't give up the bombs!
Bandera with a bomb ?! Unlikely, but ...
The problem in this case arose not only with Kiev, but also with Washington. At some point, they realized that if the missiles taken out of the "nazalezhnoy" and destroyed in Russia were "credited" to it as part of the implementation of START-1, then "parity" in the end could be completely unfavorable to the United States. The Americans categorically did not want to dispose of them on their own territory - the cost of such an event would be simply exorbitant. As a result, they began to put pressure on Moscow to take and destroy the warheads, but ... like Ukrainian ones! The Kremlin gave up, realizing that dragging out the process could lead to much worse results - by that time, the “nezalezhnoy” had begun insolently blocking and seizing the letter trains that were taking out nuclear weapons. According to intelligence, the local military was seriously attempting to "sort out" the possibility of establishing control over these munitions and their carriers. Impossible business? Well, don't tell ...
Do not forget that the famous Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and the corresponding enterprises for the production of rocket-comic equipment worked in Ukraine. In the first years of "nezalezhnost" scientific, personnel, industrial potential there have not yet been destroyed to the ground. There was enough of both the military and the specialists in the military-industrial complex, who had a Soviet "school", who knew and were able to do a lot ... So it could have turned out differently. The employees of the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, which I mentioned earlier, had to go to incredible tricks and operational combinations in order to "scratch" the remaining warheads from Ukrainian territory. It got to the point that they were taken out at night on broken-down trucks, under a layer of garbage and guarded by special forces dressed as drunken loaders ... Kuchma, whom today some people are trying to present almost as "Russia's best friend" continued to try to "twist the ropes" both Russians and Americans, threatening, demanding and begging for more and more handouts and benefits.
In the end, only the promises of complete international isolation of Ukraine and the imposition of the most severe economic sanctions on it affected him. Kiev received money - it is clear that not $ 3 billion, but $ 500 million from the United States within the framework of the famous Nunn-Lugar utilization program and nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants from our country for another $ 150 million. The NPT and START I had to be signed, confirming and emphasizing the status of a nuclear-free state. The pinnacle of Leonid Kuchma's "diplomatic successes" was the famous Budapest Memorandum, which was also signed by representatives of Russia, the United States, Great Britain and France. This document was initially conceived by those whom the Ukrainian president managed to drag to the negotiating table, as an empty and non-binding piece of paper - and in the end it turned out to be. It has no legal force and does not oblige anyone to anything. At the same time, according to the freely available memoirs of American diplomats, the US State Department did not want to give any "binding character" to the memorandum. Ukraine at that time too "got" everyone with its whining, greed, impudence and attempts to outwit everyone and everything.
In addition, by 1994 - and it was then that the signatures of its representatives finally appeared under all the necessary documents and agreements, everyone already knew perfectly well that weapons from the "non-sale" were sold (both legally and, for the most part, smuggled) into all "hot spots" of the planet. For the sake of not including an atomic bomb in some "price list", Kiev was ready to promise anything. But only promise. Today we can only rejoice that the terrifying ghost of a Neo-Bander savage with a nuclear "club" in his hands will never be able to become reality.