Starting in April, dangerous rhetoric related to regional nuclear aspirations began coming out of Poland – apparently directed as a ‘threat’ to Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine. Early that month, for example, ruling Polish party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski suggested that a “tougher” anti-Russian defense posture would include Poland being “open” to having nuclear weapons stationed in the country.

But this weekend has seen the rhetoric heighten even further, eliciting a fierce response from Moscow, when Poland’s European Parliament Deputy and former Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski suggested that the West give nukes to Kiev“The West has the right to give Ukraine nuclear warheads so that it can protect its independence,” Sikorski said according to regional sources.

MEP Radoslaw Sikorski, via Reuters

As also detailed in a Yahoo News/Ukrayinska Pravda report, “He argued that Russia broke the terms of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances by refusing to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity, so nuclear weapons should be returned to Kyiv, even though Ukrainians voluntarily disposed of them.”

In response, a top Russian Duma official warned that such a scenario would mean central Europe would in effect “cease to exist” as it would surely trigger nuclear war:

The Head of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Viacheslav Volodin, threatens that if the suggestion by the former Foreign Minister of Poland Radoslaw Sikorski to provide Ukraine with nuclear weapons is fulfilled, then the possible nuclear conflict will destroy the European continent.

Volodin said specifically in response to the Polish EU official:”Sikorski is provoking a nuclear conflict in the center of Europe. He doesn’t think neither about the future of Ukraine nor about the future of Poland. In case his suggestions are fulfilled, these countries will cease to exist, as will Europe as well.”

Since 1994, Ukraine has voluntarily been a ‘nuclear-arms-free’ country based on being a signatory to the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which marked its accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

In the days ahead of Russia’s Feb.24 invasion, President Vladimir Putin accused the Ukrainian government of seeking to revive nuclear capabilities based on Soviet technology still in its possession.

“There have already been statements that Ukraine is going to create its own nuclear weapons… Ukraine does indeed still have Soviet nuclear technologies and [the] means of delivering such weapons,” Putin had said in televised address just days before the war against Ukraine started, listing it as a justification for Moscow’s actions to come.

“Therefore, it would be much easier for Ukraine to obtain nuclear weapons than to some other states – I won’t name them now – who effectively carry out such research. Especially in case of technological support from abroad, and we must not rule this out as well,” Putin added in his speech at the time.