The Budapest Memorandum guaranteed Ukraine’s security in exchange for its nuclear weapons. Out of the four signatories, only Ukraine has kept its pledges. Even in the face of overt hostility, aggression and invasion of Crimea by Russia, not one of the other three signatories has come even close to fulfilling its explicit and implied guarantees for protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty. The Minsk agreements are an irrelevant sideshow that attempts to supersede and disavow the more fundamental security arrangements inherent in the Budapest Memorandum. It is time to revisit the terms of this historical document, and restore U.S. and U.K. credibility.
The multilateral memorandum, signed in 1994 by Ukraine, the U.S., Russia, and Britain, resulted in Ukraine renouncing its status as the world’s third largest nuclear power and forswearing future nuclear ambitions. In return, the other signatories provided “security assurances” of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty and freedom from interference. They vowed to “consult” concerning any violations, and to invoke immediate National Security Council action should Ukraine ever be attacked or threatened with nuclear force. France and China, in separate documents, affirmed their concurrence. Belarus and Kazakhstan signed identical memorandums upon receipt of similar security assurances.