The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances is an international treaty signed on 5 December 1994, providing security assurances by its signatories in connection to Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear-powers, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. -Source: Wikipedia
There has been some talk over the last few days about the Budapest Memorandum and why it might force both the United States and the United Kingdom to defend Ukraine militarily against Russia. Ultimately these things are left up to the interpretation of those who make the decisions and I think we need to keep two things in mind when considering Barack Obama:
- If he wants to go to war with Russia he can and will likely use this treaty as one of many excuses.
- If he does not want to go to war then Barack Obama is not exactly a “letter of the law” leader (as proven by past decisions involving our own Constitution, disregard for the political process and provisions of International Law).
So, regardless of what the Daily Mail, The Blaze or some guy from D.C. Clothesline say, it will not matter. Our interpretation is not the one of utmost importance. With that said, I would like to do something that most aren’t doing and show you the specifics of the agreement and give you a general history of why it was signed.
I will give you my opinion but I want you to formulate your own opinion based on facts and not the advice of some pundit.
For those who do not know your recent world history, this agreement was signed in an effort to disarm nuclear weapons. Before signing, Ukraine was in control of the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
So when we hear about Ukrainian officials begging the world to provide military support, can you really blame them? Ukraine gave up the 3rd largest pile of nukes in the world and, in doing so, felt that it was entitled to “Security Assurances.”
That is the story in short. Bill Clinton signed it.
Russia and America eliminated some competition. Ukraine demanded protection for their agreement to give up their
guns nukes (that was an intentional slip, there is a lesson in this for all of us).
Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State,
Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,
Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the Cold War, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces.
Confirm the following:
- The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.
- The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
- The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.
- The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.
- The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm, in the case of the Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state.
- The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.
This Memorandum will become applicable upon signature.
Signed in four copies having equal validity in the English, Russian and Ukrainian languages.
Article 1 clearly states that the signing nations are to respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and borders. Article 2 prohibits the threat or use of force against Ukraine, except in self-defense (or when otherwise covered by the U.N. Charter). The subsequent articles reaffirm these opinions.
My interpretation is that Russia is in violation of this agreement. Russia already had a naval base in Crimea. Vladimir Putin might hypothetically argue that Russia was not invading Crimea but, more so, strengthening its position there.
That argument would not seem completely valid. It seems akin to the old adage about giving someone an inch and seeing them take a mile. However, again, my opinion or yours is not in play here. What matters is how the decision makers see it.
There is also a lot of discussion about Crimea being an independent state and it causes some confusion. If that’s true then is a Russian Occupation really an act of war against Ukraine?
My belief is that it is a violation of sovereignty. Crimea is independent but it is part of Ukraine. Here is a really good explanation according to Wikipedia:
Crimea has its own set of laws and autonomy to the extent that those laws and actions do not conflict with Ukraine. Crimea is seen internationally as part of Ukraine. Crimea was given to Ukraine by none other than Nikita Khrushchev in 1954.
So if you hear Barack Obama and John Kerry shooting their mouths off about Russia violating Ukrainian sovereignty, they are likely correct. However, it is quite questionable if a violation of the Budapest Memorandum by one party requires military action by the other signers. Legal scholars can provide a better answer than I can but two good places to further your research is with the CONFERENCE ON SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE of 1975 and also the Charter of the United Nations. Is Russia’s action in compliance with U.N. guidelines?
By time you sift through all of that and get your answer we may be in the middle of World War III because, as we all know, Putin and Obama will do what they want and not worry about legal documents. Let’s also not forget that, even though Russia may be in violation, we were likely instrumental in starting this conflict. If it can be proven that we started this, then the United States is also in violation. That particular point isn’t getting much discussion in the mainstream media.
Let us hope and pray that cooler heads prevail.