In an interview with Polish media, General Waldemar Skrzyptzak said that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is either in possession of nukes or is preparing to manufacture them after the country gave up all of its warheads in the early 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed. Ukraine, at the time, was the third-biggest nuclear power behind Russia and the United States; via the Budapest Memorandum, however, Kyiv agreed to surrender them in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S., Britain...and Russia.
“Ukraine has officially had no nuclear weapons since the early 1990s, when it agreed to hand them over to Russia under international agreements. Now the reality could be very different," Skrzyptzak said.
“I do not rule out that Ukraine has nuclear weapons, because Ukrainians have nuclear power plants, scientists, laboratories and know-how. So you have everything to own such a weapon. In fact, as of today, no one will forbid Ukrainians from doing it," he noted further, as reported by Free West Media.
The outlet noted further:
However, the Polish media have also interviewed military experts who deny that Ukraine already has nuclear weapons. They believe that this is currently unlikely since the possession of nuclear weapons cannot be kept secret for long. However, it cannot be ruled out that Ukraine would be able to acquire such weapons in the near future.
It's very likely that Ukraine may actually need a nuclear deterrent if reports from the battlefield are correct. According to Newsweek, the Russian army has lost more than 3,000 troops killed during a three-day span this week, adding:
In an update on Thursday, Ukraine's armed forces said that Russia had lost 910 troops the previous day, taking the tally since the start of the war to 135,010. On Tuesday, Ukraine said Russian forces had lost 1,030 troops in the previous day, the highest tally for a 24-hour period since the start of the war. With Wednesday's losses also at 910, according to Kyiv, Ukraine's estimate of Russian personnel deaths over the last three days is 2,850.
To be fair, the death and casualty tolls from both militaries is not easy to gauge; Russia is also claiming that a great number of Ukrainian forces have also been killed in the fighting. That said, Western officials believe Russia is closing in on around 200,000 casualties, which includes both those killed and wounded. The war will reach its one-year anniversary on Feb. 24.
Ukraine says Russia is planning another mobilization drive to replenish its lost forces. It would come after Moscow ordered 300,000 conscripts called up last fall.
In the latter part of September, Moscow announced it officially lost 5,937 killed in battle but that makes little sense; Russia started the invasion after massing around 120,000-130,000 troops and has already had one general mobilization while now planning another.
"However, the purported death toll comes amid accounts from both sides about the deadliest combat of the war and a fierce fight for the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast, as well as near Vuhledar, around 30 miles to the southwest," Newsweek reported. "Governor of the Luhansk Oblast, Serhiy Haidai, said on Thursday that Russia had stepped up its attacks and was trying to force a breakthrough near the town of Kreminna in his region, although he added: 'our defense forces are holding firmly there.'"
Last June, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning against the United States that if it proceeds with sending missiles to Ukraine, Russia will have no choice but to strike new targets beyond its “special operation.”
Procuring Kyiv with more weapons, Putin said, will only “drag out the armed conflict for as long as possible.” In the event that longer-range missiles are sent to Ukraine, Putin added, Moscow will draw “appropriate conclusions” and strike facilities that it has not yet targeted.
“If they are supplied, we will draw appropriate conclusions from this and use our own weapons, of which we have enough, in order to strike at those facilities we are not targeting yet,” said an English translation of Putin’s words on Russian state television.
Putin never made good on that threat, likely because he couldn't.