Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference in Budapest, Hungary in 1994.

About the memorandum

  • The signatories of the memorandum agreed to provide security assurances to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine in return for their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
  • It came after the Lisbon Protocol of 1992, which made Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan parties to the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I). It was a treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1991 to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.
  • As a result of the agreements and the memorandum, between 1993 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons and became non-nuclear states.
  • At that time, Ukraine had the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal.

Signatories

  • The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers: Russia, the USA, and the UK.
  • Later, China, and France, who became NPT members in 1992, also became signatories.  However, they gave weaker individual assurances in separate documents.

Provisions

Russia, the US, and the UK agreed to the following:

  • Respect Belarusian, Kazakh & Ukrainian independence & sovereignty in existing borders.
  • Refrain from the threat or the use of force against Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
  • Refrain from using economic pressure on Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to influence their politics.
  • Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
  • Seek immediate UN Security Council action to assist 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”.

Breaches

  • 2013 Belarus sanctions: In 2013, Belarus complained that sanctions of the USA against it were in breach of Article 3 of the Memorandum.
  • Annexation of Crimea by Russia: In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, and Ukraine vigorously protested the action as a violation of Article 1 of the Budapest Memorandum.
  • Kerch Strait incident: In 2018, Ukraine appealed to the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum to hold urgent consultations to ensure full compliance with the memorandum’s commitments and the immediate cessation of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine is being considered a violation of the memorandum. President of Ukraine argued that Budapest Memorandum provides no true guarantee of safety due to Russia’s coercive power.

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