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Sun Mar 2, 2014, 08:56 AM

Does the Budapest Memorandum compel us to defend Ukraine against Russia

I've seen several headlines from dodgy news sources saying that the US and the UK may be compelled by treaty obligation to go to war on the side of the Ukraine if Russia invades. The treaty in question appears to be the Budapest Memorandum. You can see the text of it here: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ukraine._Memorandum_on_Security_Assurances

It seems to me that it compels us to take up the issue with the UN Security Council, where Russia will obviously exercise it's veto rights. I don't see where we will have to enter a shooting war on Ukraine's side if Russia invades. Am I missing something or are people just using it to stir things up?

To be clear, I am appalled by the notion of Russia invading the sovereign nation of Ukraine. I would hate for that to happen. I also understand that the situation with the predominantly Russian Crimea region is complicated. Regardless of all that, I don't want the United States to enter a shooting war with Russia. As bad as a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be, war between us and Russia would be far, far worse.

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Does the Budapest Memorandum compel us to defend Ukraine against Russia (Original post)
FreeJoe Mar 2014 OP
avebury Mar 2014 #1
Adrahil Mar 2014 #3
avebury Mar 2014 #5
Adrahil Mar 2014 #2
Octafish Mar 2014 #4
bemildred Mar 2014 #6
1awake Mar 2014 #7
jsr Mar 2014 #8
Vinnie From Indy Mar 2014 #9
Igel Mar 2014 #10

Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:06 AM

1. Any handling of the situation should be an

international one. We lost any right to play the moral high ground a long time ago. We also need to resist the MIC's efforts to continually push us into one war after another. Let the Europeans and Chinese handle this one.

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Response to avebury (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:24 AM

3. I agree the response should be international....

But the argument that past deeds, undertaken by another administration, disqualify us in acting in accordance to our internationals agreements is a very specious argument.

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Response to Adrahil (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:33 AM

5. I might agree with you IF Guantanamo Bay

had been closed down during Obama's first term of office. Obama may not have been involved in the US going down the slippery slope of war mongering and torture but I am not convinced that we have stopped our nefarious activities. This is not a slap at Obama but a concern that there are agencies within our government that continue to operate outside the law. I do not know if there is any President that will ever be able to unring that bell and bring these agencies, the MIC and the 1%ers to heel and live to talk about it. I am just too skeptical.

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Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:23 AM

2. I don't want a war, but....

... Russia is CLEARLY in violation of that agreement, and we are CLEARLY obligated to act ( though not necessarily militarily).

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Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:27 AM

4. Yeah, but think of how few people will be left afterward!

No overcrowded malls. Plenty of free parking downtown. Lots to glow about.

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Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:36 AM

6. Memorandums of Agreement don't compel shit.

They are observed until they are not observed. That's it.

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Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:48 AM

7. well....

The "Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances" is a diplomatic memorandum that was signed in December 1994 by Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document under which signatories made promises to each other as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Under the memorandum, Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from its territory, send them to disarmament facilities in Russia, and sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Ukraine kept these promises.

In return, Russia and the Western signatory countries essentially consecrated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine as an independent state. They did so by applying the principles of territorial integrity and nonintervention in 1975 Helsinki Final Act -- a Cold War-era treaty signed by 35 states including the Soviet Union -- to an independent post-Soviet Ukraine.

In the "Budapest Memorandum," Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States promised that none of them would ever threaten or use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. They also pledged that none of them would ever use economic coercion to subordinate Ukraine to their own interest.

They specifically pledged they would refrain from making each other's territory the object of military occupation or engage in other uses of force in violation of international law.

All sides agreed that no such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal and that the signatories would "consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments."

To answer your question... yes. it is binding by international law, end of story. Now, can it be enforced is a whole other question which the answer to is... no.

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Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 09:54 AM

8. It is not a mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Ukraine.

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Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 10:01 AM

9. It does not compel us to act militarily to defend the Ukraine

To be quite frank about it, I am far more concerned with the millions of American families that are watching their lives go up in flames because the GOP has obstructed unemployment benefits.

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Response to FreeJoe (Original post)

Sun Mar 2, 2014, 02:02 PM

10. Oh, for crying out loud.

One key thing that is used in diplomacy, esp. when confronted with escalation, is called a "bluff." ("Bleff" in Russian.)

Does the memorandum require us to go to war?

Well, if Putin thinks it does and thinks that we both believe it does and are ready to act on it, it makes the chances of war much less. Putin doesn't want war. He wants to win. Winning without war is better, and it's unclear where he's set the bar for actually going to war. Against a small, insignificant power the bar's low. Against Ukraine, probably not quite so low--although with dual loyalties riddling the military, that'll be a guess (and if the leaders dispose of those with dual loyalties, it'll exacerbate the sense of alienation on the part of the Russo-Ukrainians).

Having somebody sit behind the poker player and say, "Guys, he's bluffing!" isn't helpful.

In fact, if done in a way that Putin thinks reflects western thinking, it lowers the bar for invasion and makes it *more* likely. It shows that the West is divided, weak, and decides to show it's soiled underwear in public every chance it gets. It's contemptible, from another culture's POV.

The only "good thing" is that it makes it safer for *us*, even if it makes it much more dangerous for others.

A lot of people are saying they don't like having their beautiful minds bothered by the idea of actually having their values suggest action for some people that aren't us. They'd be content to wring their hands at atrocities as long as they can find somebody else to blame. "Yes, it's a shipwreck, but it's not *my* fault. Let's focus on blaming somebody so we feel superior, and not on the atrocity or even what we can do now--although perhaps an academic boycott of Russian scholars in Ukraine will do the trick!"

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