Ukraine should not have given up nuclear weapons under Budapest Memorandum, says Ukraine’s FM

21 February 2022, 07:24 PM

Ukraine’s decision to give up its nuclear weapons in return for security guarantees under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum was a “mistake,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the U.S.-based CBS News television channel late on Feb. 20.

The host, Lesley Stahl, noted that in the early ‘1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine, it had a giant nuclear arsenal – the world’s third largest stockpile -  but agreed to send the nukes back to Russia in return for security guarantees from both the United States and from Russia.

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She asked the Ukrainian foreign minister whether the Ukrainians look back on that and say, “We should not have given up our nuclear weapons? It was a mistake.”

“I do,” Kuleba answered.

At the same time, the Ukrainian diplomat stressed that “whatever mistakes were made in history, our current life provides all of us with excellent opportunities to correct those mistakes.”

“And given the fact that we abandoned our nuclear arsenal, given the fact that the security assurances that were given to us failed, I think some countries should feel responsibility for this,” Kuleba said.

“And work hard to find proper and effective security guarantees for Ukraine.”

During his speech at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 19, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would initiate consultations on the Budapest Memorandum.

“Ukraine is initiating consultations for the fourth time. And this is the last time,” Zelensky said.

“If the consultations don’t happen again and there are no concrete decisions made, Ukraine would have the right to say the Budapest Memorandum does not work and (our) decisions of 1994 can be in question.”

The Budapest Memorandum (Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) is an international agreement signed between Ukraine, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom on Dec. 5, 1994.

The document provides for security assurances of Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine’s voluntary surrender of its nuclear weapon stockpile, inherited from the Soviet Union. In 1995, the UN General Assembly approved it as an official document binding on all signatories.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, when asked about the Memorandum in connection with Ukraine, has claimed that the agreement was signed with a different government, and says Russia does not recognize the post-Maidan government as the same one that signed the Memorandum.

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