Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances
|This article is missing information about Kazakhstan and Belarus. (March 2014)|
|Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with the Republic of Belarus'/Republic of Kazakhstan's/Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons|
|Signed||December 5, 1994|
|Ukraine. Memorandum on Security Assurances at Wikisource|
The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994, providing security assurances by its signatories relating to Belarus', Kazakhstan's and 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.
The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
As a result, between 1994 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. Before that, Ukraine had the world's third largest nuclear weapons stockpile, of which Ukraine had physical if not operational control. The use of the weapons was dependent on Russian-controlled electronic Permissive Action Links and the Russian command and control system.
Following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, the US, Canada, the UK, along with other countries, stated that Russian involvement is a breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, a Memorandum transmitted to the United Nations under the signature of Sergei Lavrov, amongst others, 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".
According to the memorandum, Russia, the U.S., and the UK confirmed, in recognition of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine becoming parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and in effect abandoning its nuclear arsenal to Russia, that they would:
- Respect Belarusian, Kazakh and Ukrainian independence and sovereignty and the existing borders.
- Refrain from the threat or use of force against Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
- Refrain from using economic pressure on Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine in order to influence its politics.
- Seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, "if Belarus/Kazakhstan/Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used".
- Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
- Consult with one another if questions arise regarding these commitments.
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. The Ukrainian government nevertheless found it valuable to have these assurances in a Ukraine-specific document.
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. 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." 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. 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. 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.
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.
Breach of the agreement
Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation
In February 2014, Russian forces seized or blockaded various airports, as well as other strategic sites throughout Crimea. The troops were attached to the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in Crimea, 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. 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.
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.
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.
In February 2016 Sergey Lavrov claimed that "Russia never violated Budapest memorandum. It contained only 1 obligation, not to attack Ukraine with nukes". However, Canadian journalist Michael Colborne pointed out "there are actually six obligations in the Budapest Memorandum, and the first of them is “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine." Colborne also pointed out that a broadcast of Lavrov’s claim on the Twitter account of Russia's embassy in the United Kingdom actually "provided a link to the text of the Budapest Memorandum itself with all six obligations, including the ones Russia has clearly violated — right there for everyone to see." Steven Pifer, an American diplomat who was involved in drafting the Budapest Memorandum, later commented that "what does it say about the mendacity of Russian diplomacy and its contempt for international opinion when the foreign minister says something that can be proven wrong with less than 30 seconds of Google fact-checking?"
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 legally binding, the Memorandum is compatible with its work against human rights violations in eastern Europe. 
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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 nuclear weapons on missiles and bombers deployed on its soil was its inability to circumvent Russian permissive action links (PALs).
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- Memorandum on Security Assurances
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- Budapest Memorandum, paragraph 6.
- Thomas D. Grant, "The Budapest Memorandum and Beyond: Have the Western Parties Breached a Legal Obligation?" http://www.ejiltalk.org/the-budapest-memorandum-and-beyond-have-the-western-parties-breached-a-legal-obligation/
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- G+M: "Harper leads charge to expel Russia from G8, ramp up sanctions" 24 Mar 2014
- "Lavrov: Russia never violated Budapest memorandum". Russian Embassy in United Kingdom. 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
- Michael Colborne: Russia’s bald-faced lies by Michael Colborne, National Post, February 4, 2016.
- "Belarus: Budapest Memorandum". Botschaft der Vereinigten Staaten in Minsk (Weißrussland). 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2014-04-19. – Pressemitteilung
- "Belarus: Budapest Memorandum" (Press release). U.S. Embassy in Minsk. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Text of the Budapest Memorandum (Belarus) (Belarusian)(Russian)(English)(French)
- Text of Budapest Memorandum (Kazakhstan)
- English Wikisource has original text related to this article: Text of the Budapest Memorandum (Ukraine)
- Ukrainian Wikisource has original text related to this article: Text of Budapest Memorandum
- Text of Budapest Memorandum (Ukrainian)