The Failure of the Budapest Memorandum

Nuclear Device, courtesy of United States Action
Nuclear Device, courtesy of United States Action

If Ukraine had denied this diplomatic agreement, then Russia would have to face a Kiev government armed with nuclear devices. Thus, the situation in Crimea would require a more realpolitik view based on the strength of arms, both conventional and nuclear, rather than political good will enshrined in a treaty. As Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, told USA Today, “We gave up nuclear weapons because of this agreement. Now there’s a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake.”
Walter Russell Mead of the American Interests wrote, “If Ukraine still had its nukes, it would probably still have Crimea. It gave up its nukes, got worthless paper guarantees, and also got an invasion from a more powerful and nuclear neighbour.”

The moral of the story is that tactical nuclear devices guarantee territorial sovereignty – a lesson the world, especially those threatened by conventional forces – such as Iran, would be wise to heed.

Zurcher, Anthony. “Ukraine’s Nuclear Regret?” BBC. March 20, 2014.

United States Action. “Special Atomic Demolition Munitions (SADMs).”





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