Statement on the One-Year Anniversary of Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA)
February 24, 2023
One year has passed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022. There is still no clear path to a ceasefire agreement, and the number of casualties is continuously increasing. On the 21st of this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the only remaining arms control and disarmament treaty between the United States and Russia. On the 23rd he declared that Russia would increase the nuclear capabilities of its land, sea, and air forces. Tensions between the United States and Russia are rising. If the treaty, which has contributed to confidence-building through mutual on-site inspections and periodic consultations, becomes void and Russia returns to the path of nuclear arms expansion, the risk of the use of nuclear weapons will increase and the path to nuclear disarmament may be closed.
RECNA strongly condemns Russia’s stance and urges it to immediately cease its acts of aggression, accompanied by nuclear blackmail, and to work to restore international order based on law. Suspending the implementation of New START and announcing an increase in nuclear capability is also an act in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which mandates negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament. Russia should immediately withdraw its suspension of implementation and nuclear force buildup and establish a new framework for arms control and disarmament.
In the context of increased dependence on nuclear deterrence, the responsibility of the other nuclear weapon states, including the United States, as well as the nuclear umbrella states, should also be called into question. In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and the increased nuclear risk, Europe, Northeast Asia, and other regions are becoming more dependent on nuclear deterrence and are accelerating their arms expansions. Division and confrontation between countries with different interests has deepened, and a situation that should be called a “security dilemma” is now underway.
All nuclear armed states and “nuclear umbrella” states must thoroughly adhere to the “non-use of nuclear weapons” norm that has been in place for more than 77 years, and make the utmost effort to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use. To this end, they should return to the principle of “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” which was reaffirmed in the statement of the five nuclear weapon states on January 3, 2022. It is also significant that the G20 Summit Declaration (November 15, 2022), which includes Russia, clearly states that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” Nuclear weapon states and nuclear umbrella states have the responsibility to prioritize nuclear risk reduction measures, including confidence building and thorough implementation of crisis management measures, as well as to take steps toward more drastic reduction of the role of nuclear weapons.
Finally, every nation is expected to make efforts to overcome the “security dilemma” and explore ways to achieve common security. The recommendations issued by Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament (March 29, 2018) noted that nuclear deterrence is “a dangerous long-term basis for global security” and that “all states should seek a better long-term solution.” The upcoming Hiroshima G7 Summit must be the starting point for creative discussions on overcoming nuclear deterrence.