Ukraine will destroy its remaining strategic nuclear bombers and cruise missiles by the end of 2001, meeting its commitments under START I, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced May 25. Ukraine currently has 15 strategic bombers and 354 cruise missiles, all slated for dismantlement before December 2001, the treaty implementation deadline.
Under the Lisbon Protocol, signed in May 1992, Ukraine committed itself to accede to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state. This action was taken in concert with its ratification of START I, which designated Ukraine as one of the successor states to the Soviet Union. Under the terms of the Trilateral Agreement, signed in January 1994 by the United States, Ukraine, and Russia, Ukraine agreed to transfer its strategic nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for security assurances, compensation for fissile material contained in the weapons, and financial assistance.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced in June 1996 that all strategic nuclear warheads had been transferred to Russia. But strategic nuclear delivery vehicles on Ukrainian soil remain START-accountable because the treaty regulates warheads by limiting their associated delivery vehicles. Ukraine has continued to dismantle its strategic nuclear delivery vehicles with U.S. assistance under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program.