There seems to be a misreading of what the U.S. and Great Britain are obligated to do under the agreement signed in 1994 that gave Ukraine certain assurances about its territorial integrity in exchange for Kiev giving up its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

My friend and colleague at PJ Media Bryan Preston is wrong when he writes, “Russia knows that the United States has a security treaty with Ukraine….” There is no “security treaty.” Far from it. The “Budapest Memorandum” contains no language that can be construed as obligating the US, Great Britain, or Russia to come to Ukraine’s aid if her territorial integrity is threatened.

You can read it here. It says, in part:

1. The United States of America, the Russian Fed
-eration, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to
Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE
[Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe]
Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty
and the existing borders of Ukraine.

2. The United States of America, the Russian Fed
-eration, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland, reaffirm their obligation to refrain
from the threat or use of force against the territorial in
-tegrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that
none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine
except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with
the Charter of the United Nations.

3. The United States of America, the Russian Fed
-eration, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to
Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE
Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed
to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by
Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and
thus to secure advantages of any kind.

4. The United States of America, the Russian Fed
-eration, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek
immediate United Nations Security Council action to
provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon
State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of
Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim
of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggres
-sion in which nuclear weapons are used

The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) became the the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) a year after the Budapest Memorandum went into effect. There is nothing in the OSCE principles that would require any member state to come to the military defense of another.

And there is nothing in the Budapest Memorandum which requires the U.S. to take military action to protect Ukraine.

How about Russia’s invasion?

Is there anything legally binding about the “Budapest Memorandum” regarding Russia’s obligations to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity?

“That’s actually a much more complex question than it may sound. It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,” says Barry Kellman is a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law.

Reading the agreement, it becomes obvious that Russia has willfully violated it. Perhaps the next time a U.S. president comes to the Senate with a nuclear arms reduction treaty, senators will remember that.