Does Ukraine Regret the 1994 Budapest Me ...

Does Ukraine Regret the 1994 Budapest Memorandum?

Mar 01, 2022

Los Angeles Times

Ukraine Agrees to Give Up Its Nuclear Arsenal, NATO endorses the U.S. ‘Partnership for Peace’ plan to broaden alliance. 

The year is 1994, Bill Clinton is President of the U.S. and Russia holds fears about Ukraine (apparently).


JAN. 11, 1994 12 AM PT



President Clinton on Monday announced agreement with Ukraine and Russia to dismantle Ukraine’s entire nuclear arsenal, hailing the long-sought accord as “a hopeful and historic breakthrough that enhances the security of all three participants.”

Ukraine, politically and economically unstable since it became an independent state after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, has 176 intercontinental missiles armed with some 1,240 nuclear warheads--all aimed at the United States. It also has 592 nuclear warheads aboard bombers, which would be covered by the agreement.

Under the agreement, the United States, Russia and Britain will provide security assurances for Ukraine when it gives up its weapons and becomes an adherent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ukraine also will get financial assistance in dismantling the weapons as well as compensation for surrendering the highly enriched uranium in the warheads, which can be converted into fuel for civilian nuclear reactors.

In announcing both the Partnership for Peace plan and the trilateral agreement with the Ukraine and Russia, Clinton said, “we have taken two giant steps toward greater security for the United States.”

It would allay Russia’s fear of a hostile nuclear neighbour and answer concerns that Ukraine’s nuclear weapons could wind up in the hands of other countries.


The memorandum signed in 1994 is not legally binding.

At the time Ukraine had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

It reaffirmed the assurances that were needed as part of the international system at the time. These include respect for state sovereignty, the inviolability of international borders and abstention from the threat or use of force.

Ukraine’s decision to give up nuclear weapons signalled its desire to be seen as a member in good standing of the international community, rather than an outlier.

While Ukraine did not inherit a fully fledged nuclear capacity – Russia still held important parts of the nuclear infrastructure – Ukraine had the necessary technological and industrial ability to close the gap

The most critical part of Ukraine’s 1994 agreement to disarm was the pledge by the United States, Russia, and United Kingdom to protect Ukraine against unwarranted aggression. This must seem like a very bad joke now.  The initial agreement, the so-called Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, was later reaffirmed in 2009 by President Barack Obama.

However, in 2014, Obama watched as Russian-backed rebels, with support from Russian troops, seized control of Crimea, a region belonging to Ukraine. The rebel-backed government then seceded from Ukraine and annexed it to Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia.

Are officials in Ukraine looking backing with regret at this agreement?

The U.S and U.K have both fallen short of the delivering the help Ukraine thought it would receive.

And with China continuing to intimidate Taiwan, how many small nations are now considering the need for their own nuclear deterrent?

Oh how times have changed.

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