Thursday, December 4, 2014

20th Anniversary of the Signing of the Budapest Memorandum - Meant to Guarantee Ukraine's Borders

The Russian, US and British heads of state sign the Budapest Memorandum.
20 years ago today, Russia, the US and the UK affixed their signatures to the so-called Budapest Memorandum and by so doing pledged to ensure the territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for that country relinquishing its nuclear weapons. Ostensibly sold as an addition to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it was designed to allow Ukraine to justify removing all nuclear weapons from its territory without compromising national security.

The presidents of the US, Russia and Ukraine after signing.
However, as has become clear to anyone following events in Ukraine and Russia in general, this memorandum, which lacked any specific commitments to Ukrainian defense, has been a total failure and a disaster for the Ukrainian people. Sadly, appeals by the Ukrainian government for the signatories of the memorandum to respect their pledges have been categorically ignored. Without their nuclear weapons, Ukraine lost the only deterrent that might have stopped the forceful annexation of Crimea and the ongoing war in the Donbass: mutually assured destruction.
So, on its 20th anniversary, let us unequivocally denounce Russia for effectively shredding this important document, while also realizing that it was Western intransigence that made room for Russia's invasion. A blow has certainly been dealt to the efficacy of international law.