The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

Does treaty mean US-UK in technical state of war with Russia?

Col. Henadii Lachkov of the Ukrainian Army kisses his nation's colors.  US Army photo.

Col. Henadii Lachkov of the Ukrainian Army kisses his nation's colors. US Army photo.

Despite a handful of Western media outlets claiming a relatively unknown treaty binding the United States and Great Britain to the defense of the Ukraine may lead to armed conflict with Russia, a closer look indicates that American and British intervention may not be in the offing, as reported by the right-of-center American Spectator and on Mar. 3, 2014, and London’s The Telegraph and The Daily Mail on Feb. 28, 2014.

With at least 2,000 heavily armed Russian troops effectively occupying strategically key areas in the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula,  former Ukrainian President Yulia Tymoshenko openly declared:

Vladimir Putin knows that by declaring war on us, he is declaring war on the guarantors of our security — the U.S. and Great Britain.

Despite Tymoshenko’s claim of war,  a closer examination casts doubt on her assertion.

Unknown by most Yanks and Brits, The Budapest Memorandum (officially titled the Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) was signed off on by both Western powers as well as the Ukrainians and Russians in 1994.

The Ukraine agreed to surrender their sizable nuclear weapons arsenal directly to Moscow, with the guarantee of no future interference from the Russians in the independence and sovereignty of the Ukrainian nation and her citizens.

With The Budapest Memorandum comes the pledge from both the United States and the United Kingdom to ensure, among other specifics, that the former World War II Big Three agree to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” as well as to “reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity.”

Ukrainian Air Force SU-25. Ukraine MoD photo.

Ukrainian Air Force SU-25. Ukraine MoD photo.

By terms of the agreement the Big Three are, on paper at least, honor and and are legally bound to “reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine … if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression…”

If, after undoubtedly much talk in the United Nations, the Russians are eventually found to officially be in violation of the agreement, the American Eagle and the British Bulldog are forbidden from launching air strikes against the Russian Bear. The only thing the West could launch in defense of the Ukraine only comes in the form of diplomatic protests.

T. Kevin Whiteman is a retired Master Sergeant of Marines. He is the founder of the blog Unapologetically Rude and has written for Examiner and other blogs.

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  • Xavier

    Some claim The Budapest Memorandum is a Treaty, and others claim it’s an Agreement, which (they say) has less binding power than a Treaty. It may be to our advantage for it to be a Treaty, because (if my sources are correct, and I think they are) a Treaty overrides everything else, even U.S. Law.

    If our Dictator can ignore this Treaty – which is The Very Highest Law Of The Land – he can ignore any law we have (but you already knew that). Now how is that to our advantage? You may have heard of another Treaty, concerning the UN and Agenda 21, that could be used to trump U.S. Law with International Law. Our Dictator is fond of setting precedents, but if he sets a precedent by ignoring the Budapest Memorandum, a future President can then invoke Obama’s precedent and ignore whatever Treaty he wishes, including UN Treaties.

    I do realize that’s a bit convoluted, but it just goes to show that when you start making special exemptions in law to accommodate your desires, it’s going to come back to bite you. See also: Obamacare, illegality of.

  • jgets

    After the precedent set by that crone Albright in regards to violations of international law in the case of Yugoslavia, we can hardly be surprised that R2Pish offshoots are being used against our own interests today. It was only a matter of how and when. Besides the Budapest Memoradum calls for consultations before any actions. Consultations that are highly unlike to occur between the signatories on this issue.

    The fact that one of the first actions the “interim goverment” of Kiev undertook was to abrogate an article in the law to change Ukraine’s status as a neutral state and legally open the door to potential NATO membership also violated the spirit of the memorandum.

    It would be prudent to begin thinking of defending our interest against a future “coalition of the willing”. Yet, another Pandora’s box in international law we opened up ourselves.

  • Geoffrey Britain

    Obama honor a treaty, much less an agreement? Please.

    Nor should he in this case. Major nuclear powers do NOT engage in armed conflict for a reason and the reason is obvious. Of course, if Putin believed that Obama had any cojones, he would never even test Obama, much less ignore a warning because the warning would have credibility. But Obama lost all credibility when he went on his world bowing tour.