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22 Feb, 2022 07:42

‘Budapest Memorandums’ not legally binding – Germany

German ambassador responds to President Zelensky’s threat to reconsider Ukraine’s non-nuclear status
‘Budapest Memorandums’ not legally binding – Germany

An agreement signed in the 1990s that granted security guarantees to three former republics of the Soviet Union is not legally binding, the German ambassador to Kiev Anke Feldhusen claimed on Saturday.

Speaking to TV channel Kanal 24, Feldhusen was responding to a suggestion made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who called for the agreement’s signatories to assemble to review its terms.

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was signed in 1994 by three nuclear powers – Russia, the UK, and the US. The agreement promised a set of guarantees to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, in exchange for these countries giving up their nuclear weapons. Until then, Ukraine had the world’s third-largest arms stockpile, which was previously owned by the Soviet Union.

Now, Zelensky believes that the agreement has been breached and has threatened to start developing nuclear weapons.

“The Budapest Memorandum is indeed a format without legal obligations under international law. But I think that now we must try everything to avoid war,” Feldhusen said.

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She also expressed cautious optimism and hopes of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis, reminding that Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden spoke more frequently on the phone in the last few months than any Russian and American heads of states before them in decades.

In 2013, the US also said the agreements were not legally binding, after it imposed sanctions on Belarus which contravened one of the articles. 

As well as declaring that the country might reconsider its status as non-nuclear, Ukraine’s leader also attacked the West for using his country as a shield against Russian aggression.

 It is not the first time Kiev has been vocal about its nuclear ambitions. In 2018, Ukraine’s former national security secretary, Alexander Turchynov, declared that Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons was a historic mistake.

“The security guarantees given to us are not even worth the paper they were written on,” he said.

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