Former President Bill Clinton expressed remorse for his role in negotiating the deal known as the Budapest Memorandum in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE.
The Budapest Memorandum is, according to the Great Norwegian Lexicon:
An agreement from 1994 in which Russia, Great Britain and the United States undertake to respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and existing borders. The agreement was concluded as part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the condition was that Ukraine got rid of all its nuclear weapons.
The agreement was signed by the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, John Major, and the President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
Clinton suggested that Russia would never have invaded Ukraine if it still had nuclear weapons.
I feel that I am personally affected because I got them [Ukraine] to agree to give up their nuclear weapons and none of them believe that Russia would have pulled this stunt if Ukraine still had its weapons Clinton told Irish broadcaster RTE in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.
I feel a personal stake because I got them [Ukraine] to agree to give up their nuclear weapons. And none of them believe that Russia would have pulled this stunt if Ukraine still had their weapons, Clinton told Irish broadcaster RTE in an interview that aired Tuesday.
The 42nd president was referring to the Budapest Memorandum when then-Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk agreed to surrender approximately 1,900 nuclear warheads in exchange for security guarantees from the United States and Britain, as well as a commitment from Russia to respect Ukraine’s territory.
Bill Clinton, President of the United States In 1993-2001, he regrets that in 1994 he got Ukraine to give up nuclear weapons.
Our dignity in requests to the West is ensured by the rejection of the Ukrainian nuclear potential. pic.twitter.com/1RuX5Z7lHC
— Ukraine Front Lines (@EuromaidanPR) April 5, 2023
The pact was broken in 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, writes the New York Post.
In February 2022, Putin once again reneged on the agreement when he invaded Ukraine, calling it a “special military operation”.
“I knew that President Putin did not support the agreement that [then Russian] President [Boris] Yeltsin made to never interfere in Ukraine’s territorial borders – an agreement that he made because he wanted Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons,” Clinton said .
They were afraid to give them up because they thought it was the only thing that protected them against an expansionist Russia, he added.
I knew that President Putin did not support the agreement [then-Russian] President [Boris] Yeltsin made never to interfere with Ukraine’s territorial boundaries – an agreement he made because he wanted Ukraine to give up their nuclear weapons, Clinton said.
They were afraid to give them up because they thought that’s the only thing that protected them from an expansionist Russia, he added.
The former president noted that he thinks it’s terrible that the deal was broken and that Ukraine — a very important country — had little to offer as a deterrent to Putin’s invading forces.
Clinton argued that Western military and financial support for Ukraine should continue, and Kiev should be the one to decide when it is the right time to pursue a peace deal. There may come a time when the Ukrainian government thinks they can think of a peace deal they can live with, but he does not recommend Europe and the US to run away from Ukraine:
I think what Mr. Putin did was very wrong, and I believe Europe and the United States should continue to support Ukraine, he said. – There may come a time when the Ukrainian government believes that they can think of a peace agreement they could live with, but I don’t think the rest of us should cut and run on them.
Anne Applebaum: The Backstory to the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. Short version: No one took Ukrainian fears of Russian invasion seriously, even though they were voiced at the time.
The back story of the 1994 Budapest memorandum. Short version: No one took Ukrainian fears of Russian invasion seriously, even though they were voiced at the time. Hugely useful, from George Bogden @WSJ https://t.co/HqoiIjmmIS
— Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) March 25, 2022