Disinfo: Russia did not violate the Budapest memorandum

Summary

The Budapest memorandum does not work and it is Ukraine’s own fault, Ukraine has allowed a civil war on its territory. Russia did not violate this treaty because it did not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation that there is a civil war in Ukraine. The war in eastern Ukraine is not a civil conflict, but a well-documented act of aggression by Russian armed forces, ongoing since February 2014. The mentioned Budapest Memorandum is a diplomatic document that was signed in December 1994 by Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Under the memorandum, Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons, which Ukraine received after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The arsenal Ukraine was left with was the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, including intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. On 24 October 1991, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a statement on the country's nuclear-free status. Three years later, Ukraine actually joined the nuclear non-proliferation treaties. In exchange, the leaders of the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom signed the Budapest memorandum with guarantees of the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. The Budapest memorandum says that not one of the countries that signed the document has the right to apply any kind of aggressive policy towards Ukraine. The second paragraph states that the signatories "reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine." That is, through the Budapest memorandum Russia pledged not to use any weapon against Ukraine, not just nuclear.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 177
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/12/2019
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Nuclear issues, Civil war, Budapest memorandum, War in Ukraine
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The coup prompted Crimea to restore its Russia identity

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv lost control of Crimea and Donbas after the coup in 2014, which prompted the people of Crimea to demand the restoration of Russian identity and return in the arms of Russia while the people of the Donbas region pushed to declare independence from Kyiv by establishing two popular republics in the region.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Euromaidan, the illegal annexation of Crimea, and the war in Ukraine.

There was no coup d'état in Ukraine. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was an organic reaction by numerous parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013.

NATO promised not to expand to the East

After the collapse of the Warsaw bloc, NATO made promises that they would not expand to the East. But this did not happen. And with all the expansion of NATO that took place, they brought the bloc closer to Russia’s borders.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the West encircling Russia via NATO. NATO Allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO. Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement. This promise was never made, as confirmed by Mikhail Gorbachev, then-president of the Soviet Union. Central and Eastern European countries began seeking NATO membership in the early 1990s. NATO actively sought to create a cooperative environment that was conducive to enlargement while simultaneously building special relations with Russia. NATO does not "expand" in the imperialistic sense described by pro-Kremlin media. Rather, it considers the applications of candidate countries who want to join the alliance based on their own national will. As such, NATO enlargement is not directed against Russia. NATO's "Open Door Policy" is based on Article 10 of the Alliance's founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty (1949). The Treaty states that NATO membership is open to any "European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area". Every sovereign nation has the right to choose its own security arrangements. This is a fundamental principle of European security and one to which Russia has also subscribed. For similar cases, see here and here.

NATO enlargement poses a threat to Russia

USSR and Warsaw Pact no longer exist but NATO not only exists but is developing as well. NATO enlargement and development of its infrastructure near Russian borders is one of the potential threats to Russia’s national security. Russia has done everything to cooperate with NATO in order to deal with real problems such as international terrorism, local military conflicts, uncontrolled spread of weapons of mass destruction. But Russia-NATO cooperation was actually cut.

Disproof

The statement contains multiple recurring pro-Kremlin narratives on NATO. The first narrative is NATO as a relic of the Cold War. This narrative aims at undermining NATO's role as a defensive military alliance. Concerning the claim, that NATO is the relic of the Cold War, at the London Summit in 1990, Allied heads of state and government agreed "to keep standing together, to extend the long peace". This was their sovereign choice and was fully in line with their right for collective defence. Since then, thirteen more countries have chosen to join NATO. Twice since the end of the Cold War, NATO has adopted new Strategic Concepts (in 1999 and 2010), adapting to new realities. Thus, rather than being disbanded as a relic, NATO adapted, and continues to change, to live up to the needs and expectations of Allies, and to promote their shared vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace. See the identical case about NATO here. The second narrative claims that NATO poses a threat to Russia. NATO has many time underlined that it is a purely defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect its member states. In direct response to Russia's use of military force against its neighbours, NATO has deployed four multinational battle-groups to the Baltic States and Poland. These forces are rotational, defensive and proportionate. They cannot compare to the three divisions Russia has established in its Western Military and Southern Military Districts. Before Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, there were no plans to deploy Allied troops to the eastern part of the Alliance. See other cases on NATO posing threat to Russia here, here and here. The last narrative implies that NATO refused cooperation with Russia. NATO has reached out to Russia consistently, transparently and publicly over the past 29 years. NATO and Russia worked together on issues ranging from counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism to submarine rescue and civil emergency planning. However, in March 2014, in response to Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine, NATO suspended practical cooperation with Russia. The NATO - Russia Council is still active.