The United States has a tremendous stake both in the democratization and reform of Russia, Ukraine, and the other New Independent States (NIS) and in the further normalization of U.S. relations with NIS governments, militaries, and other institutions. Given the Soviet weapons arsenal legacy, these states are key to ensuring that the security environment remains favorable and stable. Through increasing ties to these countries, the United States is contributing to continued and lasting reductions in and effective Russian control over the former Soviet nuclear arsenal and other weapons of mass destruction.

Through its various programs and activities with the NIS, the United States seeks to ensure that Russia, Ukraine, and the other nations of the region become stable market democracies that are cooperative partners in promoting regional stability and arms control in Europe and other regions. Integral to this goal is U.S. support of efforts to eliminate, or return to Russia, any Soviet nuclear weapons and associated delivery systems remaining in the other New Independent States. The United States also seeks to deter strategic nuclear threats against its citizens and territory. The United States desires Russia to play a constructive role in European affairs, in partnership with NATO, and to maintain strong relations with an independent Ukraine. Ultimately, the United States hopes the NIS will resolve any ethnic and regional tensions through peaceful means.

In its bilateral interactions with all the NIS, the Department of Defense seeks to impart the principles of civilian leadership, defense transparency, and military reform and restructuring. The Department will continue to broaden military and civilian defense contacts and support the ongoing reduction of former Soviet weapons of mass destruction and related infrastructure.



With the breakup of the USSR, Russia has inherited the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems in the world. While its public statements and actions regarding the safety, security, and dismantlement of this massive inventory have been positive, some actions indicate Moscow is not yet fully committed to all nonproliferation regimes. Nevertheless, as of November 1996, all of the strategic nuclear weapons that remained outside Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union had been transferred from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to Russia. Collectively, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus have eliminated or deactivated about 1,300 operational strategic launchers equipped with approximately 4,100 warheads and are more than a year ahead of schedule in meeting the first phase of reduction limits of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I).

Serious concerns remain about the status of Russian chemical and biological warfare programs, the accuracy of the information provided by Russia in its declarations, and the willingness of the Russian defense establishment to eliminate these capabilities. Further, with serious economic and political challenges and the large number of weapons involved, the threat of proliferation of NBC systems and technologies from former Soviet states continues to exist.

Objectives, Strategies, and Resources

Russia is still developing a national political identity and corresponding foreign and security policies. In Europe, Moscow seeks to retain a voice in security issues by cooperating with NATO through the new Permanent Joint Council and by promoting the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as the central European institution. At the same time, Moscow strongly opposes NATO membership for the Baltic states or any former Soviet state.


Nuclear Operational strategic nuclear warheads reduced by about 40 percent since 1991.

All strategic and tactical nuclear warheads consolidated in Russia.

Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus are nuclear weapons free.

All states have ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the signed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Chemical Russia has declared the world’s largest chemical agent stockpile: 40,000 metric tons.

Russia may be developing new generation of chemical agents.

Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus have no chemical warfare programs.

Russia and Belarus have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Ukraine and Kazakhstan have signed it.

Biological Key components of the former Soviet Union’s biological warfare program remain intact in Russia.

Russia may be continuing some research related to biological warfare.

Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus have no biological warfare programs.

Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention; Kazakhstan has not signed it.

Ballistic Missiles Operational strategic nuclear delivery vehicles have been reduced by nearly half since 1991.

No operationally deployed ICBMs remain in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, or Belarus.

Russia has a large SRBM force and reportedly is marketing SRBM-related technology. Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus also have SRBM forces.

Russia is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime; Kazakhstan and Belarus are not. While Ukraine is not a member of the MTCR, it has committed to unilaterally adhere to the MTCR Guidelines and Annex.

Other Means Of Delivery Available Russia and Ukraine have land-, sea-, and air-launched cruise missiles; some are anti-ship; some have longer ranges. Kazakhstan and Belarus have air-launched tactical missiles. Only Russia has any land-attack, nuclear-capable cruise missiles.

All have a variety of combat aircraft and ground systems.


Russia has stated publicly that it is opposed to the proliferation of NBC weapons. Its arms control priorities include updating the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty to match its view of the changed situation in Europe and ensuring strict observance of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty. Because of its economic situation and serious financial shortfalls, Russia remains concerned about the costs of implementation of key arms control agreements. This is particularly true for the destruction of its large chemical weapons stockpile, where it believes Western aid is critical.

Regardless of the ultimate disposition of START II, or follow-on arms reduction talks (START III), the overall number of Russian strategic nuclear warheads will likely decline over time. START III limits proposed at Helsinki will set new limits for deployed warheads in the 2,000 to 2,500 range and include measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads.

The recent Friendship and Cooperation Treaty and agreement on the Black Sea Fleet could lead to constructive and more stable relations between Ukraine and Russia. Kiev seeks good relations with Russia, upon which it is economically dependent, and with Ukraine’s other neighbors and seeks to integrate itself into Euro-Atlantic security structures.

Ukraine has lived up to its commitment to move all nuclear weapons to Russia. By June 1996, it had completed removal of roughly 1,900 strategic nuclear weapons from its territory and had deactivated all of its 176 ICBM silos. Kiev is working with the United States to facilitate its accession to the MTCR; a presidential decree was issued in December 1996 to further improve export controls.

Kazakhstan’s policies are heavily influenced by Russia, which is concerned about the large ethnic Russian population that remains in Kazakhstan. Russia also has a sizable number of troops in the country related to its control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Kazakhstan has demonstrated its commitment to denuclearization and nonproliferation in several important ways. It returned to Russia all the nuclear warheads on its territory by April 1995. Also, by fall 1996, Kazakhstan had eliminated all 104 of its deployed SS-18 silos, returned all SS-18 missile airframes to Russia, and continued working with the United States on destruction of remaining silos.

Belarus has sought closer ties with Russia to compensate for its lack of political and economic reform and its growing financial needs, but it has been surprised by Russia’s insistence that Belarus abide by international human rights norms and pursue market reform. Nevertheless, Belarus has lived up to its commitment to become nuclear weapons free. All strategic offensive arms and their associated warheads were withdrawn from Belarus to Russia by December 1996. Further, in efforts to provide evidence of its commitment to nonproliferation, Minsk has cooperated with the United States on improving the Belarus export control system.

Nuclear Programs

As of January 1997, the stockpile of Russian strategic and tactical nuclear warheads was estimated at 25,000 warheads, a reduction of more than 5,000 warheads since a major elimination program began in 1992. This gradual reduction took place as a result of tactical nuclear warhead reduction initiatives and bilateral agreements involving strategic warheads.

If carried out, the Russian tactical warhead reduction initiatives, announced in 1991, could result in the elimination of a total of about 15,000 tactical warheads. Also, strategic arms agreements could result in the retirement and eventual disassembly of a total of more than 7,000 strategic warheads. The process of eliminating strategic warheads began in earnest in 1994. Russia is believed to be dismantling warheads, but Moscow has not divulged specific information on warhead reductions. The economic situation in the country probably has slowed the reduction effort; many retired warheads slated for elimination are awaiting dismantlement. However, the U.S. government assesses that strategic warheads constitute the majority of the warheads eliminated so far.

The START II Treaty would require a reduction in accountable warheads to 3,000-3,500 by December 31, 2007. Even if the START II Treaty is not ratified by the Russian Duma and Federation Council, the Russian strategic forces are likely to decline to fewer than 3,000 operational warheads by the middle of the next decade as a result of economic constraints and system obsolescence. Strategic nuclear forces remain a critical priority for Moscow. Strategic nuclear forces have received a higher funding priority than the conventional forces, allowing them to maintain operational readiness, but they also have been a victim of budgetary constraints and their future modernization will be slow. At the same time, however, production of additional warheads will continue into the 21st century as new strategic missile systems are deployed and obsolete warheads replaced.

The logistic system supporting the nuclear weapons stockpile has changed considerably since 1991. With the consolidation of tactical nuclear warheads and the transfer of strategic warheads, the number of storage sites holding warheads has been reduced from over 500 facilities to fewer than 100. This consolidation has improved nuclear warhead security. However, the current resource shortages in Russia have subjected the nuclear security system to new stresses and risks.

Chemical Programs

Moscow has declared the world’s largest stockpile of chemical agents: 40,000 metric tons of chemical agent, mostly weaponized, including artillery, aerial bombs, rockets, and missile warheads. U.S. estimates of the Russian stockpile generally are larger. The inventory includes a wide variety of nerve and blister agents in weapons and stored in bulk. Some Russian chemical weapons incorporate agent mixtures, while others have added thickening agents to increase the time of contamination on the target.

According to official Russian statements, all former Soviet chemical weapons are stored at seven locations in Russia, mostly in the Volga/Ural section of the country. An extensive consolidation process of chemical warfare material, both from sites within Russia and from non-Russian locations, was carried out during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Russian officials do not deny research has continued but assert that it is for the purpose of developing defenses against chemical weapons, a purpose that is not banned by the CWC. Many of the components for new binary agents developed by the former Soviet Union are not on the CWC’s schedules of chemicals and have legitimate civil applications, clouding their association with chemical weapons use. However, under the CWC, all chemical weapons are banned, whether or not they are on the CWC schedules.


Tactical Nuclear Warheads In accordance with tactical nuclear warhead reduction initiatives declared by Presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin in 1991 and 1992, respectively, Moscow pledged to:

Consolidate ground-launched tactical nuclear warheads and eliminate all of them by 2000 (nuclear mines by 1998).

Eliminate 50 percent of tactical air-launched nuclear warheads by the end of 1997.

Consolidate all naval tactical warheads and eliminate one-third of them by the end of 1996.

Consolidate air defense warheads and eliminate half of them by the end of 1996.

Strategic Nuclear Warheads Under START I, the former Soviet Union must reduce its strategic nuclear force to 1,600 launchers having 6,000 accountable nuclear warheads by December 5, 2001. START II, if ratified, would reduce U.S. and Russian levels to between 3,000 and 3,500 accountable warheads by December 31, 2007. (The 1997 Helsinki Joint Statement extended the START II reduction period from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2007.) Neither treaty requires that warheads be eliminated.

The 1994 Russia-Ukraine-U.S. Trilateral Statement stipulated that strategic warheads from Ukraine would be returned to Russia for elimination.

The Lisbon Protocol obligated Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to comply with all terms of the START agreement.

In 1995, Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to withdraw nuclear warheads from Kazakhstan to Russia. The agreement does not require elimination of the warheads, but Kazakhstan will be compensated for the amount of highly enriched uranium contained in them.

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The outlook for timely Russian elimination of its chemical warfare stockpile appears unclear despite President Yeltsin’s signing of the federal law on the destruction of chemical weapons in May 1997. Russia’s efforts to destroy its chemical stockpile remain slowed by a number of technical, ecological, financial, and political problems. Further, the unique nature of some Russian weapons complicates their destruction. For example, destruction of thickened agent and of arsenic-containing Lewisite presents a serious challenge because technology for their large-scale destruction has yet to be certified as safe and reliable. No permanent Russian destruction facilities have been built. According to preliminary Russian estimates, the destruction of Russia’s large stockpile will cost the equivalent of $5 billion. Because of current economic conditions in Russia, Moscow will continue to look to the United States, Europe, and others for substantial financial and technical assistance to implement a timely and effective destruction program.

Generally, other countries are reluctant to spend large sums to assist Russian destruction of chemical agents while Russia apparently is not spending its own funds to establish a destruction program. U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction chemical weapons destruction assistance is described in Section II of this document.

Moscow ratified the CWC on November 5, 1997. Now that it is a party to the CWC, it is obligated to destroy its chemical stocks within 10 years, unless it asks for, and is granted, a five-year extension by the CWC’s organization in The Hague.

Ukraine has signed the CWC and has no chemical weapons program, although some remnants of the Soviet chemical warfare infrastructure still remain in Ukraine. The chemical warfare-related facility that Kazakhstan inherited is being demilitarized and converted to peaceful purposes. Kazakhstan also has signed the CWC. Belarus has no chemical warfare program and has already ratified the CWC. A former Soviet chemical warfare test range in Uzbekistan has been abandoned and Uzbekistan has ratified the CWC.

Biological Program

The former Soviet offensive biological program was the world’s largest and consisted of both military facilities and nonmilitary research and development institutes. This program employed thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians throughout the former Soviet Union, with some biological warfare agents developed and weaponized as early as the 1950s. The Russian government has committed to ending the former Soviet biological weapons program. Plants outside the Russian Federation have been closed or abandoned. Nevertheless, serious concerns about Russia’s offensive biological warfare capabilities remain.

Key components of the former Soviet program remain largely intact and may support a possible future mobilization capability for the production of biological agents and delivery systems. Moreover, work outside the scope of legitimate biological defense activity may be occurring now at selected facilities within Russia. Such activity, if offensive in nature, would contravene the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972, to which the former Soviet government is a signatory. It would also contradict statements by top Russian political leaders that offensive activity has ceased.

The United States remains concerned at the threat of proliferation, both of biological warfare expertise and related hardware, from Russia. Russian scientists, many of whom either are unemployed or have not been paid for an extended period, may be vulnerable to recruitment by states trying to establish biological warfare programs. The availability of worldwide information exchange via the Internet or electronic mail facilitates this process.

While former Soviet biological warfare facilities existed in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, none are active now and the current governments in these new republics have no plans to establish any such program. Also, Belarus has no program and no intention of establishing one. Ukraine and Belarus have ratified the BWC, while Kazakhstan has not yet signed it.

Ballistic Missiles

Russia retains a significant strategic missile force of some 1,200 operational ICBM and SLBM launchers. By the end of 1996, there were no longer any operationally deployed ICBMs in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Roughly 1,200 former Soviet ICBMs and SLBMs have been removed from the overall force since 1990. On the other hand, Russia is developing a new ICBM and a new SLBM within the limitations of existing arms control treaties and also has programs underway to use ICBMs and SLBMs as space launch boosters. Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus continue to have inventories that together total hundreds of launchers and thousands of SCUD and SS-21 SRBMs. Russia retains the great preponderance of these systems, as well as large amounts of aircraft and naval launch platforms capable of delivering NBC weapons. Russia also is developing a new battlefield missile to replace the SCUD. Russia’s industrial base can support production of the full range of both solid- and liquid- propellant ballistic missiles and all associated technologies.

Ukraine plans to eliminate all of its 130 SS-19 airframes at an elimination facility built with U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction assistance. Also, Ukraine has signed an agreement to sell 43 nondeployed SS-19s to Russia. About 55 SS-19 missile airframes and about two-thirds of Ukraine’s SS-19 silos have been eliminated. In May 1997, President Kuchma announced that Ukraine would also eliminate all SS-24 silos and missiles. Ukraine has accepted an offer of U.S. technical assistance for elimination of its 55 SS-24 solid-propellant ICBM airframes and 46 SS-24 silos.

Ukraine manufactures some of the guidance and control components used in current Russian ICBMs and SLBMs. It also has the infrastructure to design, develop, and produce both liquid- and solid-propellant ICBMs and space launch vehicles and related components.

Kazakhstan retains the capability, with Russian assistance, to produce ballistic missiles and launchers but has no plans to do so. In Belarus, all 81 SS-25 ICBMs originally deployed there were returned to Russia by December 1996. Belarus has no capability to produce missiles but does produce the chassis for road-mobile missile launchers.

Cruise Missiles and Other Means of Delivery

Russia and Ukraine have a variety of land-, and sea, and air-launched cruise missiles. Many are designated as short range anti-ship weapons, although other tactical cruise missile systems have ranges of up to 500 kilometers. Kazakhstan and Belarus also have a variety of short range air-launched tactical missiles. All of these systems were produced by the former Soviet Union and many were exported to numerous countries worldwide. Only Russia has any long range land attack nuclear capable cruise missiles. All four states have a variety of fighter aircraft, helicopters, artillery, and rockets available as potential means of delivery for NBC weapons.

Role as Supplier

Despite official statements by the governments of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus that they are opposed to proliferation of NBC weapons and missiles, some sales have and are taking place. Whether these are officially sanctioned or efforts by local entities to ignore or circumvent controls is unclear. Further, the controls in place now are not yet adequate or enforced to the degree to prevent proliferation of components or technical expertise. Some officials may turn a blind eye to such activity because of the critical need for revenues.

Nuclear cooperation between Russia and China includes the sale of nuclear weapons-related technologies. Because Russia and China are nuclear weapons states, as defined under the NPT, there are no NPT-related restrictions on their nuclear weapons-related trade. There is concern, however, that Russian nuclear exports to China may enhance China’s ability to complete existing, or sign new, contracts with countries of proliferation concern, such as Iran or Pakistan.

Russia also has contracts for the sale of nuclear power reactors to Iran and India. While the sale to Iran is not prohibited by the NPT, it will enhance Iran’s currently limited nuclear infrastructure and thus advance Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. India has not signed the NPT and many of its reactors are not under IAEA safeguards. Therefore, the sale of Russian reactors should not be allowed under the terms agreed upon by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The Russians contend their contracts predate export controls adopted by the NSG and are therefore unaffected by it.

There are indications that Moscow is not fully capable of controlling personnel and institutions involved in chemical warfare. If this situation continues, Russian entities could become a major source for advanced chemical warfare-related material and technology. There is similar evidence that Russian technologies and expertise related to biological warfare may be reaching countries of proliferation concern.

Russia has been a member of the MTCR since 1995. However, activities of Russian companies remain a significant proliferation concern. For example, Russian entities reportedly have aided missile programs in China, the Middle East, and South Asia. Given Russia’s sophisticated missile production capabilities, it is likely Russian technological support or training will continue to find its way to such countries, sometimes without necessarily gaining Moscow’s approval.

Because Ukraine and to a lesser extent Kazakhstan have missile production infrastructures, there is potential for both these countries, or entities within them, to supply missile-related equipment, components or technology to states trying to develop missile capabilities. Similarly, Belarus produces missile launcher-related equipment, which could be marketed.


The steady decline in the number of operational strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems over the last five years is a strong indication of the adherence of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to arms control regimes. All states are meeting their commitments regarding strategic weapons and delivery systems. At the same time, however, the threat of possible diversion of nuclear material, some from the very weapons that have been deactivated, remains a serious security challenge. The possible continued presence of large chemical and biological warfare programs remains a serious concern.

The poor economic conditions in the former Soviet Union, where large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction related material still exist, combined with continued shortfalls in the ability of regional states to control and protect sensitive materials, contribute to this region remaining a proliferation concern. The same is true for production technology and expertise in the form of knowledgeable scientists and technicians, related to the weapons, as well as to missile delivery systems.


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