Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances

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Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances
Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Signed December 5, 1994 (1994-12-05)
Location Budapest, Hungary
Ukraine. Memorandum on Security Assurances at Wikisource

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances is a political agreement signed in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994, providing security assurances by its signatories relating 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. China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.[1]

The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, as well as those of Belarus and Kazakhstan. As a result, Ukraine gave up the world's third largest nuclear weapons stockpile between 1994 and 1996,[2][3] of which Ukraine had physical if not operational control.[4][5] The use of the weapons was dependent on Russian-controlled electronic Permissive Action Links and the Russian command and control system.[4][5]

Following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, the US,[6][7] Canada,[8] the UK,[9] along with other countries,[10] stated that Russian involvement is a breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, a Memorandum signed by Sergei Lavrov,[11] and in violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia stated that the Budapest Memorandum does not apply to the 2014 annexation, stating that it was driven by an internal political and social-economic crisis. Russia stated it was never under obligation to "force any part of Ukraine's civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will." Russia suggested that the US was in violation of the Budapest Memorandum, describing the Euromaidan as a "US-instigated coup".[12]


According to the memorandum, Russia, the U.S., and the UK confirmed, in recognition of Ukraine becoming party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and in effect abandoning its nuclear arsenal to Russia, that they would:

  1. Respect Ukrainian independence borders.[13]
  2. Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.
  3. Refrain from using economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence its politics.
  4. Seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, "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".
  5. Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Ukraine.
  6. Consult with one another if questions arise regarding these commitments.[14][15]


Under the agreement, the signatories offered Ukraine "security assurances" in exchange for its adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum bundled together a set of assurances that Ukraine already held from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) Final Act, United Nations Charter and Non-Proliferation Treaty.[1] The Ukrainian government nevertheless found it valuable to have these assurances in a Ukraine-specific document.[16][17]

The Budapest Memorandum was negotiated at political level, though it is not entirely clear whether the instrument is devoid entirely of legal provisions. It refers to assurances, but it does not impose a legal obligation of military assistance on its parties.[1][17] According to Stephen MacFarlane, a professor of international relations "It gives signatories justification if they take action, but it does not force anyone to act in Ukraine."[16] In the U.S. neither the George H. W. Bush administration nor the Clinton administration was prepared to give a military commitment to Ukraine, nor did they believe the U.S. Senate would ratify an international treaty, so the memorandum was adopted in more limited terms.[17] The memorandum does indicate a requirement of consultation among the parties "in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning the[...] commitments" set out in the memorandum.[18] Whether or not the memorandum sets out legal obligations, the difficulties that Ukraine has encountered since early 2014 may cast doubt on the credibility of future security guarantees offered in exchange for non-proliferation commitments.[19]

China and France gave security assurances for Ukraine in separate documents. China's governmental statement of 4 December 1994 did not call for mandatory consultations if questions arose, just calling for "fair consultations". France's declaration of 5 December 1994 did not mention consultations.[1]


1994 Crimean crisis

In 1990, Meshkov was elected as a deputy to the Supreme Council of Crimea (the republic's parliament). There he became the co-founder of the RDK Party (Republican movement of Crimea). In 1994, he stood at the helm of the electoral bloc "Rossiya" for the republican presidential elections, where he easily defeated in the second round of elections Mykola Bahrov who ran as an independent. At that time, Bahrov was the head of the Supreme Council of Crimea. During the second round of the 1994 Crimean presidential elections, Meshkov won with 72.9 percent of the vote, and was elected as the republic's only president.[20][21]

Meshkov's main political platform was to facilitate much closer relationships with the Russian Federation up to the possible annexation of Crimea by Russia.[citation needed] He tried to initiate a military-political union with Russia and completely disregarded opinions of the Ukrainian government.[citation needed] He also tried to force the circulation of the Russian currency,[clarification needed] issue foreign passports to the Ukrainian population, and even transfer Crimea to the same time zone as Moscow. Due to the unforeseen resistance of the local opposition, Meshkov only managed to put his autonomous republic into Moscow's time zone. He also appointed the Russian economist Yevgeny Saburov as vice prime-minister; Saburov virtually became the head of the government.[citation needed] Other government officials[who?] disputed the appointment, arguing that Saburov could not hold the position because he did not have a Ukrainian passport.[citation needed] Saburov was forced to resign. After that he[who?] managed to paralyze the work of the Supreme Council of Crimea.[citation needed]

In 1995, the Ukrainian parliament abolished the Crimean Constitution and abolished the post of president on 17 March.[22][23] After a couple of warnings in September and November 1994, on 17 March 1995 the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, signed the Law of Ukraine that abolished the amended Crimean Constitution and some other Laws of AR Crimea, on the grounds that they contradicted the Constitution of Ukraine and endangered the sovereignty of Ukraine.[citation needed]

2003 Tuzla Island dispute

In 2003, Russian construction efforts were seen as an attempt to annex Tuzla Island off the Crimean coast of Ukraine.[2][dead link] The Russian threat to Tuzla led to the Ukrainian leadership appealing to NATO for consultations on security, as outlined in the 1997 NATO-Ukraine Charter, without result.[2] The dispute led to negotiations over delimitation of the maritime borders. In a 2012 preliminary agreement, Ukraine and Russia agreed that Tuzla Island would be considered Ukraine's territory.[24][needs update]

Russia-Ukraine gas disputes

A political dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine started soon after the Orange Revolution in 2005. Partially as part of the dispute, the regime of Viktor Yanukovych convicted the former prime-minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko in abuse of power. It also led to signing of the Kharkiv Pact which for a speculated gas discount Ukraine extended the stay of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and Crimea. Shortly after the March 2014 annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Russia unilaterally terminated the treaty on 31 March 2014.

2013 Belarus Sanctions

The government of Belarus said that American sanctions were in breach of the Memorandum; the United States government responded that, although not binding, the Memorandum is compatible with its work against human rights violations in eastern Europe.[25]

2014 Crimean crisis

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia after hosting the Budapest Memorandum Ministerial on the Ukraine crisis in Paris, France, on March 5, 2014.

In February 2014, Russian forces seized or blockaded various airports, as well as other strategic sites throughout Crimea.[26] The troops were attached to the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in Crimea,[27] likely placing Russia in violation of the Budapest Memorandum. The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the movement of armoured units attached to the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, but asserts that they are acting within the scope of the various agreements between the two countries. Other official Russian sources deny that the units in the area of Sevastopol International Airport, specifically, are attached to the Black Sea Fleet.[28] Russia responded by supporting a referendum on whether the Crimea should join the Russian Federation. Russia announced the referendum was being conducted by 'local forces'. On 16 March, Russia annexed Crimea. Ukraine vigorously protested the action as a violation of Article 1 of the Budapest Memorandum. However, Russian troops were in Sevastopol from the earliest stages of the secession movement, they had been there for years under a treaty arrangement by which Ukraine allowed Russia to station forces there.[29]

In response to the crisis, the Ukrainian parliament has requested that the Memorandum's signatories reaffirm their commitment to the principles enshrined in the political agreement, and further asked that they hold consultations with Ukraine to ease tensions.[30]

On 24 March 2014, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the rest of the G7 partners at an ad-hoc meeting during the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague to suspend Russian membership, partially, said Harper, because Russia had violated the Budapest Memorandum. He said that Ukraine had given up its nuclear weapons "on the basis of an explicit Russian guarantee of its territorial integrity. By breaching that guarantee, President Putin has provided a rationale for those elsewhere who needed little more than that already furnished by pride or grievance to arm themselves to the teeth." Harper also indicated support for Ukraine by saying he would work with the new Ukrainian government towards a free trade agreement. Ukrainian-Canadians make up roughly 3.3% of the population of Canada.[31]

Russia accused Western governments of violating the pledge to respect the political independence of Ukraine by "financing a coup d'etat" that ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.[32][33]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Vasylenko, Volodymyr (15 December 2009). "On assurances without guarantees in a 'shelved document'". The Day. Retrieved 18 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Crimea:Europe's Next Flashpoint, By Taras Kuzio, November 2010[dead link]
  3. "Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances, 1994". Council on Foreign Relations. 5 December 1994. Retrieved 2 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 William C. Martel (1998). "Why Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons : nonproliferation incentives and disincentives". In Barry R. Schneider, William L. Dowdy (ed.). Pulling Back from the Nuclear Brink: Reducing and Countering Nuclear Threats. Psychology Press. pp. 88–104. ISBN 9780714648569. Retrieved 6 August 2014. There are some reports that Ukraine had established effective custody, but not operational control, of the cruise missiles and gravity bombs. ... By early 1994 the only barrier to Ukraine's ability to exercise full operational control over the the nuclear weapons on missiles and bombers deployed on its soil was its inability to circumvent Russian permissive action links (PALs).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Alexander A. Pikayev (Spring–Summer 1994). "Post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine: Who can push the Button?" (PDF). The Nonproliferation Review. 1 (3). doi:10.1080/10736709408436550. Retrieved 6 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Readout of President Obama's Call with President Putin" (Press release). The White House. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Editorial Board (28 February 2014). "Condemnation isn't enough for Russian actions in Crimea". Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. That, Corinne Ton; Commisso, Christina (22 March 2014). "In Kyiv, Harper calls for 'complete reversal' of Crimea annexation". CTV News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Stevenson, Chris; Williams, Oscar (1 March 2014). "Ukraine crisis: David Cameron joins Angela Merkel in expressing anxiety and warns that 'the world is watching'". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Медведев: Россия не гарантирует целостность Украины, BBC
  14. Memorandum on Security Assurances
  15. Philipp Bleek (29 April 2014). "Why Ukraine wasn't a nuclear power in the early 1990s and the West has no legal obligation to come to its aid now". Arms Control Wonk. Retrieved 16 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Are the US and the UK bound to intervene in Ukraine?, france24, 3 March 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Steven Pifer (4 March 2014). "Ukraine crisis' impact on nuclear weapons". CNN. Retrieved 6 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Budapest Memorandum, paragraph 6.
  19. Thomas D. Grant, "The Budapest Memorandum and Beyond: Have the Western Parties Breached a Legal Obligation?"
  20. "New developments in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine" (PDF). Assembly of WEU. 4 December 2001. p. 24. Retrieved 7 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Bohlen, Celestine (23 March 1994). Russia vs. Ukraine: A Case of the Crimean Jitters. New York Times
  22. Laws of Ukraine. Verkhovna Rada law No. 93/95-вр: On the termination of the Constitution and some laws of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Adopted on 1995-03-17. (Ukrainian)
  23. Staff report (19 March 1995). Ukraine Moves To Oust Leader Of Separatists.New York Times
  24. "Russia, Ukraine Agree on Maritime Border Delimitation | Russia | RIA Novosti". 13 July 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Belarus: Budapest Memorandum" (in German). Botschaft der Vereinigten Staaten in Minsk (Weißrussland). 12 April 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2014.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Pressemitteilung
  26. "POLITICAL LEGITIMACY AND INTERNATIONAL LAW IN CRIMEA: PUSHING THE U.S. AND RUSSIA APART". Diplomatic Courier. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Booth, William; DeYoung, Karen (28 February 2014). "Reports of Russian military activity in Crimea prompts stern warning from Obama". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Movement of Russian armored vehicles in Crimea fully complies with agreements — Foreign Ministry". RT. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Putin Admits Russian Troops in Crimea". Bloomberg. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Ukrainian parliament appeals to Budapest Memorandum signatories". Interfax Ukraine. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. G+M: "Harper leads charge to expel Russia from G8, ramp up sanctions" 24 Mar 2014
  32. Alastair Macdonald (6 February 2014). "Ukraine leader to Sochi as Kremlin warns may act against 'coup'". Reuters. Retrieved 16 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Steve Gutterman (19 March 2014). "Russia, West trade accusations over 1994 Ukraine deal". Reuters. Retrieved 16 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links