“Russia obviously retains the right if needed to deploy its nuclear weapons anywhere on its national territory, including on the Crimean Peninsula,” Ulyanov said in an interview with RIA Novosti in regard to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin’s statement during a NATO ministerial meeting in mid-May in Antalya, Turkey.
Earlier the Russian Defense Ministry announced plans that during snap combat readiness exercises it would redeploy 10 Tu-22M3 (Flanker) long-range aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons; however, there was no mention of arming them with nuclear warheads. The United States expressed its concern of the possible deployment of nuclear arms in Crimea.
According to Klimkin, “the deployment of nuclear weapons in Crimea would be the most serious breach in Russia’s international commitments” in numerous agreements, including the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
“Any activity or even signals from Russia on the mere possibility of deploying nuclear weapons in Crimea will be considered the gravest breach in all international norms. In this case, the international community will need to react most decisively,” Klimkin said.
Russia’s Ulyanov said the same statement was made by Klimkin during another conference on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Arms.
“How is it that [Klimkin], in seeing Crimea as part of Ukrainian territory, even suggest that the deployment of Russian nuclear arms there would damage the non-nuclear status of Ukraine? The idea is quite interesting in that it can be understood as an indirect attack on the United States, as well as on Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, where US nuclear weapons are already deployed. Following the Ukrainian minister’s logic, this is a direct breach of non-nuclear status of these European nations. I won’t argue, but I will say that the situation in Crimea is of course different,” Ulyanov said.
The Crimean Peninsula was reunited with Russia after a referendum on March 16, 2014.