The truth behind the Budapest Memorandum
On this, the 28th, anniversary of the Budapest memorandum, if we analyze the decision of Ukraine to surrender its nuclear stockpiles in exchange for security assurance, and get political and economic assistance, was beneficial for Ukraine or whether it suffered in the long run. On 5 December 1994, the Budapest Memorandum was signed by Ukraine to get assured its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
In order to get itself internationally recognized, Ukraine was demanded to jointhe NPT. The NPT is a legally-binding instrument that recognizes only five countries as legitimate holders of nuclear weapons: China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US. All other countries are banned from developing a nuclear arsenal and those that have, including India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea, are not parties to the NPT.
The Budapest Memorandum depicts the failure of the international community to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Although Russia still flourishes in trade relations with other states so the US should not expect other states ro feel obliged to meet US demands in the international arena
To follow the pursuit, Ukraine gave up its nuclear stockpiles in exchange for security agreements and guarantees from Russia, the UK, and the USA. If we talk about the initial gains, it did get international recognition, and financial, and political assistance. But in the long term, in the light of Ukraine’s experience, the pursuit of nuclear weapons to safeguard one’s sovereignty and independence may be seen as more legitimate. If Ukraine had been a nuclear power then the situation might be different. It has negative implications for the nuclear arms control regime.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a serious violation of the Budapest Memorandum. Even the US and UK responses to the Russian invasion was not up to the mark, as they placed economic sanctions on Russia but they were insufficient to halt the aggressive behaviour of Russia. The international community was reluctant to not get involved in other countries’ war. The Ukrainian leaders and public feel betrayed and consider that the security assurances they were promised under the Budapest Memorandum are not worth more than a piece of paper.
The economic sanctions imposed on Russia are not followed by many countries, particularly India. Its trade with Russia doubled after the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. India’s oil imports from Russia increased from 1 percent to 20 percent after the Ukraine invasion. They are willing to bolster economic ties with Russia as they are strategic partners. India as the US key ally is not aligned with the US stance on Russia. The European Union is still having trade relations with Russia, their bilateral trade actually having increased during the period January-July 2022, according to the report of Eurostat. Trade turnover for the period reached €171.4 billion. Russia is also having trade relations with GCC countries. Russia’s trade with the GCC was valued at $3 billion a year in 2016 and $5 billion in 2021.
The economic sanctions the USA imposed on countries as a part of the stick-and-carrot approach, failed in the case of the Russia-Ukraine war. The security guarantees under the Budapest Memorandum have not been fulfilled in the Ukraine invasion. They were using these security agreements as a bargaining tool in the past to distract countries like Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine from the nuclear arms race.
Their failure in the Budapest Memorandum raises a big questionabout US credibility as in the future its security agreements and guarantees would not be considered reliable by other states. The USA should take into account that in a globalized world, and states are not US puppets.
The key US ally, India is not willing to implement a trade ban on Russia so in the future, they should not expect India to be working on their agenda in the South Asian region. They would not oblige with whatever comes in contradiction to their national interest
The Budapest Memorandum depicts the failure of the international community to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Although Russia still flourishes in trade relations with other states so the US should not expect other states ro feel obliged to meet US demands in the international arena.