Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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INTERNATIONAL WEEKLY № 23 (15.12.2018 – 31.12.2018)

Russia once again brutally ignored the guarantees provided  to Ukraine by the Budapest Memorandum, showing the worldwide insignificance of the  Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

On December 5, 2018, Ukraine appealed to the signatory states of the Budapest Memorandum with the requirement to hold urgent consultations. This is stated in the relevant statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. " The Russian aggression and violation of Ukraine's renunciation of nuclear weapons undermines the international non-proliferation regime and will determine the future of relations with states that can choose the way to create this type of weapons. On November 27, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, on the basis of paragraph 6 of the Memorandum, appealed to the signatory states of the Budapest Memorandum with the requirement of urgent consultations to ensure full compliance with the obligations and the immediate cessation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine," the statement said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that Ukraine considers the Budapest Memorandum "as an important international instrument to ensure the security of Ukraine and requires Russia to fully adhere to its commitments." "24 years ago Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for the security assurances confirmed by the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Russian Federation in the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In particular, these states have committed themselves to refrain from the threat of force or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine", – stressed in the Ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine also reminded that the guarantor states have provided obligations that none of their weapons would ever be used against Ukraine.[1]

Already on December 21, the special representative of the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said in an interview with the newspaper " Day " that Russia refused to meet with the nuclear powers on the mechanism of the Budapest Memorandum.According to him, the matter is not in the format of the meeting, but in Moscow's unwillingness to stop the war and recognize its responsibility. The United States supported the idea of holding a meeting under the Budapest Memorandum, but this initiative was rejected by Moscow. "We supported the idea of holding a meeting under the Budapest Memorandum. But Russia rejected it.Russia refused, because this state became the only country that violated the Budapest Memorandum, which was at the forum where this situation should be resolved," he said.[2]

German political scientist Andreas Umland argues that the Budapest Memorandum is important not only for Ukraine but also for the world. In Ukraine, this document is misinterpreted as a kind of definite agreement with the United States and Great Britain on some guarantees of protection from aggression. First, in form it is not an international Agreement or Treaty, but only a Memorandum – a diplomatic document, and therefore documents of this level are not ratified by Parliaments. Secondly, consciously or unconsciously different terms are used in the documents in Ukrainian, Russian and English. Since the document does not expected help from Ukraine or Russia, but from the English – speaking signatories, the greater authority has the English version which uses the word “assurances”, instead of the word “guarantees”. Third, the document is not about the protection of Ukraine. It is said that in the case of aggression, a meeting of the UN Security Council should be held, where Russia can block any decision. And also that the signatories should meet and discuss the problems.

Formally, the United States and the United Kingdom have fulfilled this point. But the document does not look like article 5 of the Washington Treaty of NATO - an attack on an Alliance member is equal to an attack on the entire Alliance and obliges all its members to the military protection of the victim of aggression. The Memorandum created a special connection between the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world. In 2014, Russia violated the logic of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by attacking Ukraine. The violation of the Budapest Memorandum by a nuclear-weapon state, which had attacked a country that had itself renounced nuclear weapons and to which it had promised not to attack, had violated the logic of why countries that wanted to avoid aggression should not seek to acquire nuclear weapons.[3]

In turn, the Director of the Institute for National Policy Yuriy Shulipa argues that the West in relation to Russia does not have an adequate policy of deterrence of Russian aggression, especially in terms of information and communication.  Some Ukrainian and Western experts, politicians and journalists know and publicly say that Russia has grossly violated the Budapest Memorandum. However, they believe that the Budapest Memorandum does not provide any guarantees to Ukraine. In this regard, they actually repeat Putin's theses and his propaganda. The negative impact of this factor is due to the fact that the leaders of the guarantor countries of the territorial integrity of Ukraine do not want to raise the issue of consultations within the Budapest format on their own initiative, despite the fact that they are obliged to do so. Thus, at first glance, a silent status quo emerged in the global information field, when Ukraine, Russia and the West are satisfied with the deliberate disregard of the Budapest Memorandum.

Denying the significance of the Budapest Memorandum is an actual complicity in a propaganda information crime against Ukraine, international law, international guarantees and international security. 

Analyzing from these positions the situation around the Budapest Memorandum, we can come to conclusions about the reasons and conditions of reducing its global importance in the global information space:

  • legal nihilism;
  • lack of political will on the part of the leadership of the United States, great Britain and France to hold consultations in the Budapest format;
  • domination of the destructive influence of the Russian mass media in the world-wide Russian- speaking information space;
  • uncritical attitude to the "throwing" of the Russian mass media, including the so-called" liberal", some representatives of the Ukrainian and Western media;
  • lack of proper interaction between representatives of the scientific and legal community, recognized experts in the field of public international law, politicians, statesmen and journalists;
  • absence in the Ukrainian and Western media about the global and strategic importance of the role of international law in the fight against Russian aggression.[4]

We remember that the Budapest Memorandum does not contain the obligations of the guarantor countries to fight for our land, but we have the moral right to demand collective application to be sufficient in their effectiveness to non-military coercive measures of the Russian Federation to the world and the liberation of all occupied territories without the exception. Sanctions against Russian enterprises, as well as the Russian elite, are certainly necessary, but insufficient. That is why the entire sanctions policy should not be aimed at achieving intermediate results, but at the complete liberation of the territory of Ukraine. We need the real peace, not its illusion, extended for many years. Such decisions are vital not only for our country. The implementation of Budapest guarantees restores confidence in the Western world and increases the effectiveness of efforts aimed at nuclear disarmament on the planet. In the end, it is necessary for Russia itself to get rid of the aggressive fume and finally solve internal problems.

As a result of our country’s renunciation of nuclear weapons, not only the guarantor countries, but all the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance have saved hundreds of billions of dollars in defence spending for almost a quarter of a century. This gives us every right to insist on a substantial strengthening of military and technical assistance, which is urgently needed for the country to create an effective air defense system, to revive the Navy and to strengthen our capabilities to resist ground invasion at the current level. On the verge of a civilizational break, Ukraine defends the democratic world against aggressive invasion at the expense of the lives of its soldiers, at the cost of huge destruction and suffering of millions of people.[5]

Given this reaction of the signatory states of the Budapest Memorandum, one cannot but agree that Ukraine should have left nuclear weapons for its own protection. The opinion of Ukraine that with the collapse of the bipolar system of international relations, the world would be much safer, turned out to be a big mistake.Time has shown that during times of difficulty Ukraine did not receive effective security guarantees, although did not subjected to a nuclear attack.