The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the world's largest nuclear arsenal of some 29,000 nuclear weapons, under the sovereign power of four new states: the Russian Federation, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. While Russia succeeded the Soviet Union as a recognized nuclear power, the status of nuclear weapons in the three non-Russian states was more ambiguous. Whose weapons were they, what claims could these new states convincingly and legitimately make in relation to the nuclear weapons on their territory, and who would carry out Soviet Union’s arms control obligations under START I and NPT? The presentation explores how the deliberations and decisions made during and immediately after the Soviet collapse framed much of the ensuring negotiations over the fate of Soviet nuclear legacy, leading, in the end, to the denuclearization of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Mariana Budjeryn earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. Her dissertation examined the role of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime in the nuclear disarmament of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Mariana holds an M.A. in International Relations from CEU and a B.A. in Political Science from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. Her analytical contributions on Ukraine's disarmament and the current Ukrainian-Russian crisis have appeared in The Nonproliferation Review, World Affairs Journal, Arms Control Today, and the Wilson Center publications.