The Budapest Memorandum, designed to appease any reservations Ukraine may have had in acceding to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, was signed in 1994, providing security assurances by its signatories.
Ukraine had the world’s third largest nuclear weapons stockpile. 20 years ago, in concord with the Budapest Memorandum,Ukraine became party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Russia, one of the signatories pledging to abide by the Memorandum [to provide security assurances],has breached its obligations to Ukraine under the Memorandum. The United States and Britain, the other two signatories of the Memorandum, likewise, have failed in fulfilling their obligations.
In reality Russia had violated the Memorandumwell before 2014 – after all, according to the Memorandum, Russia is obligated 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.Russia’s gas policy vis-à-vis Ukraine that had been adopted years prior to the war [in east Ukraine] has been a gross violation of the Memorandum. The war Russia waged against Georgia was another stark example of Russia’s blatant disregard for international law. Yet the international attention that should have been accorded the events in Georgia was absent. And the fact that back in 2009 Russia had threatened to attack Ukraine with nuclear weapons was glossed over as well. Russian doctrine clearly states that the enlargement of NATO gives Russia the right to use short range nuclear weapons even if the opponent were to use conventional weapons. This includes the use of nuclear weapons as a preventive measure. Even after observing Russia’s behavior, the world leaders and the general public did not display any fear or nervousness that Russia might start another military conflict.
In accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Ukraine is obligated not to acquire, not to bear, and not to manufacture nuclear arms. In accordance with a UN Security Council resolution the nuclear-weapon member States are obliged to take urgent action in defense of the non-nuclear-weapon member States if the member State is a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used. Can Ukraine count on this crucial security assurance? In light of the non-fulfillment of the Budapest Memorandum it has become evident that in case of a nuclear attack Ukraine cannot count on military assistance from the United States or from Great Britain, or for that matter any other kind of assistance from the “concerned world community.”
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