Negative Security Assurance in the context of Ukraine War

Negative security assurance is a concept in international security that refers to a commitment by a state or a group of states to refrain from using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) or against other states that have renounced their possession of nuclear weapons. In 1968 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 255, “Question Relating to Measures to Safeguard Non-Nuclear-Weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” The first legally-binding negative security assurance was contained in the Treaty of Tlatelolco (1969).

Latin America and the Caribbean a nuclear weapon free zone.  In the beginning of 1980, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) started discussing the term negative security assurances annually from 1983–1994 in an ad hoc committee.

If we look into the Ukraine war, Russia was overconfident to achieve its objective in a very short time because of being nuclear whereas Ukraine was not a nuclear state. But it didn’t happen because Ukraine got the support of western worlds and war got prolonged. Now, this war has become the matter of prestige for Putin. He has made several statements regarding the possible use of nuclear weapons in the event of a conflict with Ukraine. These statements have been widely criticized by the international community, as the use of nuclear weapons in any conflict would have catastrophic consequences for both countries and the world as a whole. In 2014, during the early stages of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s state-owned media outlet RT published an article that suggested Russia could use nuclear weapons in response to any aggression by NATO or Ukraine.

According to the Aljazeera report, Europe’s largest armed war since World War II is set to begin a new chapter in the coming weeks. According to the Ukrainian defense minister, “there is no suggestion of a negotiated end to the 13 months of fighting between Russia and Ukraine a spring counteroffensive could begin as soon as April.” According to reliable sources, US officials have said that a new $2.6bn military aid package could be announced early next week and is expected to include air surveillance radars, anti-tank rockets and fuel trucks for the Ukrainian army. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund said its executive board approved a four-year $15.6bn loan program for Ukraine, part of a global $115bn package to support the country’s economy as it battles Russia’s 13-month occupation. President Joe Biden ruled out deploying F-16 fighter jets last month, and top US officials have frequently stated that the planes are not currently in the plans. However, authorities are working on other methods to strengthen Ukraine’s air force, such as trying to mount advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles on its Soviet-era MiG-29s and evaluating Ukrainian pilots’ abilities.

US support to Ukraine is evident and it is placing nuclear weapons in Europe like Ukraine during war as a part of its nuclear deterrence. The deployment of nuclear weapons is further escalating the war. It is obvious Russia will not accept the defeat and eventually will use tactical nuclear weapons in response. Global leaders must focus on the importance of Negative security assurance rather than on extended deterrence to bring out peace and to avoid conflicts. If leaders want to work on the reduction of arms control then there is a need to implement this. Negative security assurances can be an important confidence building measure, which strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation regime, contributes to nuclear disarmament and enhances regional and global security, in line with the goals and objectives of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Hira Bashir
Hira Bashir
Research Assistant at CISS AJK