Twenty years ago in 1994 the United States and Russia were the two largest nuclear powers on earth.
Ukraine was number three and was most definitely a nuclear power to be reckoned with.It had roughly 1,900 long range nuclear warheads and another 2,500 or so short range nuclear weapons under its control and there were approximately 200 silos scattered around the country ready to launch them as circumstances warranted.
In one of the great blunders of history the government of Ukraine at the time agreed to give up its nuclear weapons and become a non nuclear nation, something no other nuclear power has done before or since. It did so after receiving assurances from the other nuclear powers of the day that its territorial integrity, including the Crimea, would forever be respected and that its national sovereignty would not be jeopardized or compromised as a result of giving up the weapons. Specifically, in the Budapest Memorandum the United States, Russia and Great Britain agreed “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine,”. France and China signed the memorandum later on as well.
So, here we are twenty years later and Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent the Russian military into the Crimea and effectively annexed it and placed it under Moscow’s control, his control, thus splitting Ukraine and jeopardizing and compromising its political independence, its national sovereignty, its very existence.
Where are the other signatories to the memorandum and what are they doing to get the Russians to keep their word and leave Ukraine and the Crimea alone…what are they doing to get the Russians “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine,” and live up to the Budapest Memorandum, not to mention at least six other international covenants and agreements?
Nowhere to be found, that’s where and nothing substantial or effective at all, that’s what.
By their weak, lacklustre and totally ineffectual response the United States, Great Britain, France and China as signatories to the Budapest Memorandum and the international community in general have made it crystal clear to Putin that he is free to do as he wishes with the Crimea and Ukraine and that they will not do anything meaningful to force him to change his behavior and live up to the Budapest Memorandum and all the other international covenants and agreements. They have also made it crystal clear to the Ukrainians that they are on their own and crystal clear to the rest of the world that the Budapest Memorandum and international covenants and agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on…that they cannot be trusted to keep their word and live up to their promises and commitments, despite their rhetoric…that promises are made to be broken and that they will break them.
Can anyone seriously believe that Putin would have marched on Ukraine if it had retained its nuclear weapons? No, they can’t. Can anyone seriously believe that Ukraine would be in the predicament it is if it decided not to trust the United States, Great Britain, Russia and later France and China and kept its nuclear weapons? No, they can’t.
Ukraine’s predicament is a very instructive lesson for Israel, whose nuclear deterrent is arguably the only thing keeping its enemies from attacking in force and overwhelming and destroying it.
Very instructive indeed.