The Ukrainian authorities are counting on the help of the UK and the USA, whose leaders have signed the Budapest Memorandum. This was stated by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov.
“I know that Leonid Kuchma (the second president of Ukraine – ed.) has raised it several times (the issue of the annexed Crimea – ed.), but the Russian side reacts to this very sharply, it even may leave the negotiating table. But I know for sure that in the “Normandy format” both the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and political advisers are raising this issue, it sounds at the level of leaders,” the senior official said.
He reminded that it was Leonid Kuchma who signed the “Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation,” which the latter violated.
According to Reznikov, now Ukraine needs to work on creating a platform dedicated to the return of Crimea. It may not take place in Minsk, but, for example, in Chisinau or Brussels. And in this matter, Ukraine “cannot do without the help of Western partners”.
“And the second document is the so-called Budapest Memorandum, in which we were promised inviolability and protection in exchange for renouncing our nuclear status. Russia has violated it, and we have not received obvious help from the UK and the USA, and we are still waiting for it. Plus, there are two other countries that have joined the memorandum – France and China. It is interesting that the President of France Francois Mitterrand (President of France in 1981-1995 – ed.) at the signing said then to Leonid Kuchma: “Young man, you will still be deceived.” Unfortunately, this is what happened, so we are deeply convinced that Western partners should help us,” Reznikov said.
The Budapest Memorandum is just a piece of paper, and in international relations, the papers mean very little. In international politics, the army of states, their economies, and historical ties with individual countries are important.
In the international sphere, countries implement agreements only when it is beneficial to them because there is no instance whose decision should be implemented. For example, the court or the executive service.
If we rely on paper, we will repeat the fate of countries that have disappeared from the world map precisely because they had too high hopes for international treaties.
Military assistance and support for Ukraine’s economy are important to us now, but also diplomatic pressure on Russia, including through sanctions – is also a fairly effective mechanism. It all depends on the political will of the Western partners and on the insistence of the Ukrainian government, which must insist on it.
Unfortunately, over the last year, Ukraine’s international activity has fallen sharply. I do not think that the mention of the Budapest Memorandum will solve anything fundamentally. It is important that Ukraine’s foreign policies change and become more active.
So far, no one has revoked the Budapest Memorandum, no one has withdrawn their signatures under this document, no one has officially refused to implement it, and the countries had simply pretended that we have not promised anything. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no agreements. Moreover, if constantly reminded of this, it can be quite painful for other countries. In essence, this is a reminder that the relevant international institutions do not operate and that no one intends to protect anyone in a difficult situation.
Previously, Ukraine’s strategy was that we don’t particularly mention it (Budapest Memorandum – ed.), and in return, we expect some material or other support from Western countries. But so far no one in the world has adequately responded to the challenges posed by the violation of the Budapest Memorandum.
It is not worth expecting that it will be fulfilled, but it is worth reminding about it because it is a reminder of the moral responsibility to Ukraine on the part of the guarantor countries.
Ukraine should be provided with military assistance, as it is a matter of military aggression, and financial support in order to overcome the negative effects of Russian aggression.
The issue of the Budapest Memorandum arises in several areas.
First, legal. The Budapest Memorandum was signed by the leaders of the nuclear states, it has no statute of limitations, in fact, it is a perpetual agreement. This is not just a sub-conventional document. This is an agreement between the nuclear powers and Ukraine. It is unique in nature, as Russia, together with the UK and the USA, guaranteed the territorial and economic integrity of Ukraine and provided sovereign guarantees. France and China have joined the treaty. In fact, non-compliance with this treaty undermines the guarantees of stability not only of international security but also of the nuclear deterrence system. In the legal sense, this is a colossal blow to international law. The nuclear country, using the threat of nuclear force, annexed neighboring territories, and the world has not yet recovered.
Undoubtedly, something can be changed in this context. Appeals to the UK and the USA are futile, as there have been many appeals, but both the British and the Americans understand the danger of this situation, but without the “trigger” no one will act.
Accordingly, Ukraine can file a lawsuit against Russia in an international court for violating the Budapest Memorandum. Then the court will decide whether there was a violation or not. Unfortunately, we are constantly told that this agreement contains evaluative judgments that have no warranty obligations. I assure you, as a person who has long specialized in international security law, everything is clearly written there.
Secondly, the political moment. In this sense, Russia, which has been able to convince the whole world that the Budapest Memorandum is just a blank piece of paper and it means nothing, has in fact left the world discourse. After that, the Russian Federation decided on the priority of national legislation. This means recognizing the referendum in Crimea and supporting the separatist movement in Donbas.
Third, the geopolitical plane. Ukraine has ceased to be a subject of international law, influencing the agenda of the geopolitical club. Poroshenko has not been able to rectify this situation. So now Ukraine is a disenfranchised entity that lives on donations, not only from the West but also from Russia.
So the attempt to change the Minsk format and force Russia to turn everything into a bilateral negotiation process (Ukraine-Russia), on the one hand, looks like the right step. On the other hand, it is clear that Russia will assess this as a provocation and will not do so. It is too strong in both diplomatic and behind-the-scenes decision-making. It is no coincidence that Dmytro Kozak flew to Angela Merkel with a complaint that the Normandy format was breaking.
Accordingly, a return to the Budapest Memorandum is the only way to return Ukraine to geopolitics.
This can be done in several ways. Here is one of them: Vladimir Putin is now in a difficult situation of reaching a new level of Russian governance (“zeroing” of the presidential term). I think that in these circumstances, the international community, with the participation of mediators, can tell Putin that we will allow this to be done in exchange for the return of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Another option is to close the issue of the return of Crimea and Donbas for the time being, although this contradicts President Zelensky’s promises. The return is an illusion, given that on the other side of the line of demarcation in the Donbas created an extremely powerful military quasi-state system. These troops are united by a command located in Novocherkask (Russia), where there are 65-70 thousand servicemen. This is almost as much as the military on the front line on the Ukrainian side. Russian mercenaries have better weapons than the Ukrainian army, because, according to all the world’s intelligence, they receive the latest equipment and ammunition. Our military is sitting in the trenches and does not have the ability to conduct active hostilities, have a limited supply of old ammunition, very few new weapons.
And in these conditions, geopolitics is of key importance. And geopolitics is the Budapest Memorandum, it is such decisions that this document is appreciated.
It will be recalled that the Budapest Memorandum was signed on December 5, 1994. According to the document, Ukraine received guarantees of territorial integrity in exchange for the renunciation of nuclear weapons. The document was signed by the leaders of Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and the Russian Federation.
It is known that Russia illegally annexed the Ukrainian Crimea on March 18, 2014. Before that, an unrecognized by most countries “referendum” on the status of Crimea was held on the peninsula. As a result of this illegal “expression of will”, the Russian Federation included Crimea in its membership.