Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994 to provide security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.[1]

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances
Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with the Republic of Belarus'/Republic of Kazakhstan's/Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Signed5 December 1994 (1994-12-05)
LocationBudapest, Hungary
Read Online
Ukraine. Memorandum on Security Assurances at Wikisource

The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

As a result, between 1994 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. Until then, Ukraine had the world's third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile,[2][3] of which Ukraine had physical, but not operational, control. Russia alone controlled the codes needed to operate.[4][5] Their use was dependent on Russian-controlled electronic Permissive Action Links and the Russian command and control system.[4][5]

In 2009, Russia and the United States released a joint statement that the memorandum's security assurances would still be respected after the expiration of the START Treaty.[6]

After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, the US,[7][8] Canada,[9] the UK,[10] along with other countries,[11] stated that Russian involvement was a breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, which was transmitted to the United Nations under the signature of Sergei Lavrov and others,[12] and in violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. On 4 March 2014, the Russian president Vladimir Putin replied to a question on the violation of Budapest Memorandum, describing current Ukrainian situation as a revolution "a new state arises, but with this state and in respect to this state, we have not signed any obligatory documents."[13] Russia stated that it had never been under obligation to "force any part of Ukraine's civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will." Russia tried to suggest that the US was in violation of the Budapest Memorandum and described the Euromaidan as a US-instigated coup.[14]


According to the memorandum,[15] Russia, the US and the UK confirmed their recognition of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine becoming parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and effectively abandoning their nuclear arsenal to Russia and that they would:

  1. Respect Belarusian, Kazakh and Ukrainian independence and sovereignty in the existing borders.[16]
  2. Refrain from the threat or the use of force against Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
  3. Refrain from using economic pressure on Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to influence their politics.
  4. Seek immediate Security Council action to provide assistance to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine if they "should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used".
  5. Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
  6. Consult with one another if questions arise regarding those commitments.[12][17]


Under the agreement, the signatories offered Ukraine "security assurances" in exchange for its adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum bundled together a set of assurances that Ukraine had already held from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) Final Act, the United Nations Charter and the Non-Proliferation Treaty[1] but the Ukrainian government found it valuable to have these assurances in a Ukraine-specific document.[18][19]

The Budapest Memorandum was negotiated at political level, but it is not entirely clear whether the instrument is devoid entirely of legal provisions. It refers to assurances, but it does not impose a legal obligation of military assistance on its parties.[1][19] According to Stephen MacFarlane, a professor of international relations, "It gives signatories justification if they take action, but it does not force anyone to act in Ukraine."[18] In the US, neither the George H. W. Bush administration nor the Clinton administration was prepared to give a military commitment to Ukraine, and they did not believe the US Senate would ratify an international treaty and so the memorandum was adopted in more limited terms.[19] The memorandum has a requirement of consultation among the parties "in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning the... commitments" set out in the memorandum.[20] Whether or not the memorandum sets out legal obligations, the difficulties that Ukraine has encountered since early 2014 may cast doubt on the credibility of future security guarantees that are offered in exchange for nonproliferation commitments.[21] Regardless, the United States publicly maintains that "the Memorandum is not legally binding."[22]

Ukrainian international law scholars such as Olexander Zadorozhny maintain that the Memorandum is an international treaty because it satisfies the criteria for one, as fixed by 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) and is “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law".[23]

China and France gave security assurances for Ukraine in separate documents. China's governmental statement of 4 December 1994 did not call for mandatory consultations if questions arose but only for "fair consultations". France's declaration of 5 December 1994 did not mention consultations.[1]

Scholars assumed at the time that Ukraine's decision to sign the Budapest Memorandum was proof of Ukraine's development as a democracy and its desire to step away from the post-Soviet world it made first steps toward a European future. For 20 years, the Ukrainian nuclear disarmament case was an exemplary case of nuclear nonproliferation until the Ukrainian crisis.[24]


Annexation of Crimea by RussiaEdit

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia after hosting the Budapest Memorandum Ministerial on the Ukraine crisis in Paris, France, on 5 March 2014.

In February 2014, Russian forces seized or blockaded various airports and other strategic sites throughout Crimea.[25] The troops were attached to the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in Crimea,[26] which placed Russia in violation of the Budapest Memorandum. The Russian Foreign Ministry had confirmed the movement of armoured units attached to the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea but asserted that they were acting within the scope of the various agreements between the two countries. Other official Russian sources denied that the units in the area of Sevastopol International Airport were attached to the Black Sea Fleet.[citation needed] Russia responded by supporting a referendum on whether the Crimea should join it. Russia announced the referendums was being conducted by "local forces." On 16 March, Russia annexed Crimea, and Ukraine vigorously protested the action as a violation of Article 1 of the Budapest Memorandum.

In response to the crisis, the Ukrainian parliament requested for the Memorandum's signatories to reaffirm their commitment to the principles enshrined in the political agreement and asked for them to hold consultations with Ukraine to ease tensions.[27]

The Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally displaced persons (Ukrainian: Міністерство з питань тимчасово окупованих територій та внутрішньо переміщених осіб України) is a government ministry in Ukraine that was officially established on 20 April 2016[28] to manage occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea regions, which are affected by Russian military intervention of 2014.

On 24 March 2014, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the G7 partners in an ad hoc meeting during the Nuclear Security Summit, at The Hague, for a partial suspension of Russian membership due to Russia's breach of the Budapest Memorandum. He said that Ukraine had given up its nuclear weapons "on the basis of an explicit Russian guarantee of its territorial integrity. By breaching that guarantee, President Putin has provided a rationale for those elsewhere who needed little more than that already furnished by pride or grievance to arm themselves to the teeth." Harper also indicated support for Ukraine by saying he would work with the new Ukrainian government towards a free trade agreement.[29] Harper was subsequently defeated in the federal election of 15 October 2015 and resigned as leader of the Conservative Party.

In February 2016, Sergey Lavrov claimed, "Russia never violated Budapest memorandum. It contained only one obligation, not to attack Ukraine with nukes."[30] However, Canadian journalist Michael Colborne pointed out that "there are actually six obligations in the Budapest Memorandum, and the first of them is "to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine." Colborne also pointed out that a broadcast of Lavrov's claim on the Twitter account of Russia's embassy in the United Kingdom actually "provided a link to the text of the Budapest Memorandum itself with all six obligations, including the ones Russia has clearly violated – right there for everyone to see." Steven Pifer, an American diplomat who was involved in drafting the Budapest Memorandum, later commented on "the mendacity of Russian diplomacy and its contempt for international opinion when the foreign minister says something that can be proven wrong with less than 30 seconds of Google fact-checking?"[31] Russia argued that the United States broke the third point of the agreement by introducing and threatening further sanctions against the Yanukovych government.

2013 Belarus sanctionsEdit

The government of Belarus said that American sanctions were in breach of the Memorandum against Article 3, but the US government responded that although it is not legally binding, the Memorandum is compatible with its work against human rights violations in Eastern Europe.[32]

Kerch Strait incidentEdit

On 27 November 2018, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine appealed to the signatory states of the Budapest Memorandum with the requirement to hold urgent consultations to ensure full compliance with the commitments and the immediate cessation of Russian aggression against Ukraine.[33][34][35]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Vasylenko, Volodymyr (15 December 2009). "On assurances without guarantees in a 'shelved document'". The Day. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  2. ^ Kuzio, Taras (November 2010). "The Crimea:Europe's Next Flashpoint" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances, 1994". Council on Foreign Relations. 5 December 1994. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Martel, William C. (1998). "Why Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons: nonproliferation incentives and disincentives". In Barry R. Schneider; William L. Dowdy (eds.). Pulling Back from the Nuclear Brink: Reducing and Countering Nuclear Threats. Psychology Press. pp. 88–104. ISBN 9780714648569. Retrieved 6 August 2014. There are some reports that Ukraine had established effective custody, but not operational control, of the cruise missiles and gravity bombs.... By early 1994 the only barrier to Ukraine's ability to exercise full operational control over the nuclear weapons on missiles and bombers deployed on its soil was its inability to circumvent Russian permissive action links (PALs).
  5. ^ a b Pikayev, Alexander A. (Spring–Summer 1994). "Post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine: Who can push the Button?" (PDF). The Nonproliferation Review. 1 (3): 31. doi:10.1080/10736709408436550. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Ukraine, Nuclear Weapons, and Security Assurances at a Glance | Arms Control Association". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Readout of President Obama's Call with President Putin". (Press release). 1 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014 – via National Archives.
  8. ^ Editorial Board (28 February 2014). "Condemnation isn't enough for Russian actions in Crimea". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ That, Corinne Ton; Commisso, Christina (22 March 2014). "In Kyiv, Harper calls for 'complete reversal' of Crimea annexation". CTV News.
  10. ^ Stevenson, Chris; Williams, Oscar (1 March 2014). "Ukraine crisis: David Cameron joins Angela Merkel in expressing anxiety and warns that 'the world is watching'". The Independent.
  11. ^ Fisher, Matthew (24 March 2014). "Russia suspended from G8 over annexation of Crimea, Group of Seven nations says". National Post. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Letter dated 94/12/07 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General" (PDF). United Nations. 19 December 1994. hdl:11176/44537. A/49/765; S/1994/1399. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Putin at a press conference, 4 March 2014 (in Russian)". YouTube. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  14. ^ Медведев: Россия не гарантирует целостность Украины [Medvedev: Russia does not guarantee the integrity of Ukraine] (in Russian). 20 May 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances, 1994 - Council on Foreign Relations". 5 December 1994. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Joint Declaration of the Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America, as well as a Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine's Accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed in Budapest on 5 December 1994". United Nations. 21 December 1994. CD/1285. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  17. ^ Philipp Bleek (29 April 2014). "Why Ukraine wasn't a nuclear power in the early 1990s and the West has no legal obligation to come to its aid now". Arms Control Wonk. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  18. ^ a b Are the US and the UK bound to intervene in Ukraine? Archived 19 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, france24, 3 March 2014
  19. ^ a b c Steven Pifer (4 March 2014). "Ukraine crisis' impact on nuclear weapons". CNN. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  20. ^ Budapest Memorandum, paragraph 6.
  21. ^ "EJIL: Talk! – The Budapest Memorandum and Beyond: Have the Western Parties Breached a Legal Obligation?". 18 February 2015.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Zadorozhny, Olexander (2015). "Russian Aggression against Ukraine, the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum". European Political and Law Discourse.
  24. ^ Shymanska, Alina (1 March 2018). "The "Double Standard" of Nonproliferation: Regime Type and the U.S. Response to Nuclear Weapons Program". International Journal of Nuclear Security.
  25. ^ "POLITICAL LEGITIMACY AND INTERNATIONAL LAW IN CRIMEA: PUSHING THE U.S. AND RUSSIA APART". Diplomatic Courier. 8 May 2014. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  26. ^ Booth, William; DeYoung, Karen (28 February 2014). "Reports of Russian military activity in Crimea prompts stern warning from Obama". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  27. ^ "Ukrainian parliament appeals to Budapest Memorandum signatories". Interfax Ukraine. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  28. ^ (in Ukrainian) The Cabinet decided to create the Ministry of temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons, Ukrayinska Pravda (20 April 2016)
  29. ^ Chase, Steven; Mark MacKinnon (24 March 2014). "Harper leads charge to expel Russia from G8, ramp up sanctions". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  30. ^ "Lavrov: Russia never violated Budapest memorandum". Russian Embassy in United Kingdom. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  31. ^ Michael Colborne: Russia’s bald-faced lies by Michael Colborne, National Post, 4 February 2016.
  32. ^ "Belarus: Budapest Memorandum". U.S. Embassy in Minsk (Press release). 12 April 2013. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  33. ^ "Україна скликає зустріч ядерних держав". 5 December 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  34. ^ "Україна скликає зустріч ядерних держав за механізмом Будапештського меморандуму". Ukrayinska Pravda. 5 December 2018.
  35. ^ "Заява МЗС України у зв'язку зі скликанням консультацій відповідно до Будапештського меморандуму". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. 5 December 2018.

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