No, the West Won't Go to War Over Ukraine

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.