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  1. #1
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    Default Does a 1994 treaty oblige the US and UK to defend Ukraine?

    Newspapers in Britain claim that the US and UK could go to war based on the 1994 agreement related to removal of Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine. Here is a short excerpt from one article:

    A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin's troops cross into the country.
    Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine - agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
    Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz2ugOcpUvu
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    A careful review of the Budapest Memorandum seems to show otherwise. For the full text see:http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ukrain...ity_Assurances

    1. The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

    This section seems to be saying that the US agrees not to attack Ukraine, but there is no commitment to defend Ukraine from attack. Clearly a Russian attack or annexation of parts of Ukraine would violate the agreement, but I see no requirement that the US do anything in response.

    One article does seem to oblige action in defense of Ukraine:

    4. The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

    The only obligation is to go to the security council if there is a nuclear attack against Ukraine. It is highly unlikely that Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, but even if they did Russia has a veto on any action of the security council.

    A final issue is that I have found no evidence of Senate ratification of this memorandum as a treaty. If that is true, my understanding is that the US government is under no legal obligation to follow the agreement.

    Russia appears to be violating the 1994 memorandum. What should the US do in response?

    Do you believe that the US is legally or morally obliged to protect Ukraine?

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    Never put before Congress. But one has to wonder why Presidents sign on to agreements like these when we have no intention of ever following through on them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chip View Post
    Never put before Congress. But one has to wonder why Presidents sign on to agreements like these when we have no intention of ever following through on them.
    My understanding is that future presidents normally honor non-treaty agreements, but there is nothing legally binding.

    The text of the memorandum does not really oblige the US to do anything except not to interfere with Ukraine or engage in military against Ukraine. Russia is likewise obliged, but there is no requirement that the US do anything against Russia if there is a violation of the agreement.

    There is always the possibility of some secret assurances to Ukraine from the US government, but I see nothing that requires to US to fight in defense of Ukraine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill.in.PA View Post
    Newspapers in Britain claim that the US and UK could go to war based on the 1994 agreement related to removal of Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine. Here is a short excerpt from one article:

    A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin's troops cross into the country.
    Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine - agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
    Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz2ugOcpUvu
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    A careful review of the Budapest Memorandum seems to show otherwise. For the full text see:http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ukrain...ity_Assurances

    1. The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

    This section seems to be saying that the US agrees not to attack Ukraine, but there is no commitment to defend Ukraine from attack. Clearly a Russian attack or annexation of parts of Ukraine would violate the agreement, but I see no requirement that the US do anything in response.

    One article does seem to oblige action in defense of Ukraine:

    4. The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

    The only obligation is to go to the security council if there is a nuclear attack against Ukraine. It is highly unlikely that Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, but even if they did Russia has a veto on any action of the security council.

    A final issue is that I have found no evidence of Senate ratification of this memorandum as a treaty. If that is true, my understanding is that the US government is under no legal obligation to follow the agreement.

    Russia appears to be violating the 1994 memorandum. What should the US do in response?

    Do you believe that the US is legally or morally obliged to protect Ukraine?
    And no its not only if there is a nuclear attack. It quite clearly says the victim of an act of aggression OR......

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    The way I read the agreement is that the nations mentioned (The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) agreed to respect Ukraine's sovereignty. I don't see anything in there that could drag any of the nations mentioned into war.


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    Quote Originally Posted by chip View Post
    And no its not only if there is a nuclear attack. It quite clearly says the victim of an act of aggression OR......
    The text is ambiguous. It could be read that that "victim of aggression" is only in the case of a nuclear attack or it could be for any attack. In any case, the most that the US is obliged to do is to bring the matter to the UN Security Council, where Russia has an absolute veto.

    The US and Britain sent troops to Korea in the 1950s without any agreement to defend South Korea. That was because the Soviet Union was boycotting the UN at the time, and the Security Council was able to act without a Soviet veto. I doubt that Russia would boycott any Security Council meetings now.

    Ukraine made the 1994 agreement as part of the process to give up a large stockpile of Soviet nuclear weapons. Ukraine got rid of the last nukes in 1996. Russian reports claim that the Ukrainians are threatening to build nuclear weapons in response to Russian military action in Crimea.

    For details see: http://rt.com/news/ukraine-nuclear-arsenal-threat-314/

    Reports are that 6000 Russian troops have gone to Crimea in response to the Crimean government's request for help from Russia.

    http://news.sky.com/story/1219302/uk...in-6000-troops

    I suspect that if the Russians stay in Crimea, all the US is going to do is say "bad Russia" and send some token aid to the Ukrainian government. The Russians can claim that they are merely protecting their Naval Base and supporting the pro-Russian government of Crimea.

    An issue is if Ukraine attempts to retaliate against Russia. In winter 2005-2006 and 2009 disputes between Russia and Ukraine cut off supplies of Russian natural gas flowing through Ukraine to the European Union. The same thing could happen again, but spring weather could make any interruptions less of a problem now.

    Things could spin out of control. Any Ukrainian military action or violent protests by Ukrainians against the Russians in Crimea could be very dangerous. Likewise any Russian military actions outside of Crimea could provoke a violent response.
    Last edited by Bill.in.PA; March 1st, 2014 at 9:48 am.

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    Never passed by Congress then no and why should we, is it our concern if Ukraine wants closer ties to Russia or the EU? This Nation was strong when they were part of the USSR and the world spun nicely also so I dont see a national security interests either.

    Why our leaders sign agreements that could have a possibility of getting us entangled in a war is beyond me.
    A government small enough to drown in a tub is just what I want

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnrocks View Post
    Never passed by Congress then no and why should we, is it our concern if Ukraine wants closer ties to Russia or the EU? This Nation was strong when they were part of the USSR and the world spun nicely also so I dont see a national security interests either.

    Why our leaders sign agreements that could have a possibility of getting us entangled in a war is beyond me.
    Ditto.

    Something that is being overlooked in re to this is that Biden verbally reaffirmed security assurances when in Ukraine July 2009. And in December of that same year, Obama (along with Russia) signed a new Joint Declaration that reaffirmed the Budapest Memorandum.

    Given that there were tensions Russia/Ukraine at the time, it seems to me that there is reason to question such overt recommitments.

    Regardless, though, they are events that should be brought to light when discussing the '1994' treaty. Because I think it leaves an erroneous impression that Obama is stuck dealing with somebody else's promises, conditions dropped on him. Which is not the case.

    Entanglement in this situation is IMO something the US should avoid. Regardless of past commitments. And the primary reason I have for that is a lack of faith that this administration has the ability to effectively use muscle of any ilk. Particularly when up against Putin.


    It sucks. I rhink your sentiment is right----whether we apply it to 1994 or 2009. But I'd rather see us face the negative consequences of failing on an obligation that what I think would be even less desirable consequences of trying to fulfill them.

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    No Senate ratification? Its nonbinding.

    Stay out. That ship has sailed.

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    Exactly Kay,Obama is at fault also, what he is now doing will have about as much effect as a couple of penquins shaking a tambourine at a sleeping Polar Bear
    A government small enough to drown in a tub is just what I want

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaydahl View Post
    Ditto.

    Something that is being overlooked in re to this is that Biden verbally reaffirmed security assurances when in Ukraine July 2009. And in December of that same year, Obama (along with Russia) signed a new Joint Declaration that reaffirmed the Budapest Memorandum.

    Given that there were tensions Russia/Ukraine at the time, it seems to me that there is reason to question such overt recommitments.

    Regardless, though, they are events that should be brought to light when discussing the '1994' treaty. Because I think it leaves an erroneous impression that Obama is stuck dealing with somebody else's promises, conditions dropped on him. Which is not the case.

    Entanglement in this situation is IMO something the US should avoid. Regardless of past commitments. And the primary reason I have for that is a lack of faith that this administration has the ability to effectively use muscle of any ilk. Particularly when up against Putin.


    It sucks. I rhink your sentiment is right----whether we apply it to 1994 or 2009. But I'd rather see us face the negative consequences of failing on an obligation that what I think would be even less desirable consequences of trying to fulfill them.
    Things could get much more complicated very quickly if Russian forces go into other areas of Ukraine.

    This report from RT highlights pro-Russian demonstrations in several Ukrainian cities outside Crimea.
    http://rt.com/news/kiev-clashes-rioters-police-571/

    Putin has requested that the Russian parliament authorize Russian forces in Ukraine, and I see no restriction on the forces only going into Crimea. If the Russians start sending forces to other parts of Ukraine, violent confrontations with Ukrainian forces or demonstrators is very likely.

    Images of Russian troops attacking Ukrainians could mean that things get very ugly very quickly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnrocks View Post
    Exactly Kay,Obama is at fault also, what he is now doing will have about as much effect as a couple of penquins shaking a tambourine at a sleeping Polar Bear
    Foolish penguins they would be to shake that tamborine in the first place. I think there would be effect. Not desirable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill.in.PA View Post
    Things could get much more complicated very quickly if Russian forces go into other areas of Ukraine.

    This report from RT highlights pro-Russian demonstrations in several Ukrainian cities outside Crimea.
    http://rt.com/news/kiev-clashes-rioters-police-571/

    Putin has requested that the Russian parliament authorize Russian forces in Ukraine, and I see no restriction on the forces only going into Crimea. If the Russians start sending forces to other parts of Ukraine, violent confrontations with Ukrainian forces or demonstrators is very likely.

    Images of Russian troops attacking Ukrainians could mean that things get very ugly very quickly.
    It's always been complicated. IMO we do not have leadership capable of dealing with them. And an increase in complexity is not going to change that. I see our choices as being 1) not good and 2) even less not good.

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    Obama won't even follow the Constitution, why would he follow a half-baked treaty?

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    A half baked Treaty not approved by Congress. Yeah, I hope he doesnt follow it.
    A government small enough to drown in a tub is just what I want

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