Continuing with our story from yesterday. This piece from VZGLIAD goes into the issue of the famous “Budapest Memorandum” [heretofore referred to as “BM”] and why Yury Kostenko’s arguments lead to the fact that pro-Ukrainians should not even bother to play that particular card any more.
We left off yesterday with Ukrainian President Poroshenko in a state of high pathos at the United Nations, crying about the fact that the BM has been treated like “just a sheet of paper”.
Six months prior to this, Poroshenko had made an appearance in the U.S. Congress in Washington DC. Lodging his grievance to the assembled Congresspersons, Poroshenko complained: “We received a guarantee of security, according to the Budapest Memorandum. Russia violated the agreement and has committed an act of direct aggression against Ukraine.”
Yury Kostenko, a former Ukrainian government official (granted, with a shady past, he was implicated in bribes and money-laundering and stuff like that, but then so was everybody else) is the first Ukrainian politician of any stripe to finally step forward and debunk this whole kaboodle. Here is what he said:
“The way people in Ukraine understand the Budapest Memorandum does not correspond to its actual content.”
A week earlier Stanislav Shushkevich said the same thing. Shushkevich was the first Head of State of Independent Belarus, after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In other words, he was there and in the thick of things at the time this all happened. Along with Kostenko and the others. So, he knows what he is talking about.
“There was no such thing as a Budapest Accord,”
according to Shushkevich. “There was a Memorandum. A Declaration. Those are two different things: to declare something; and to complete an accord. Here is an example: The agreement to form the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States]. It was signed and ratified by the governments. But here [with the BM] all we had was the expressed opinion of various leaders, that such-and-such nations are the guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. But nobody ever put these statements through the legislative machinery of Great Britain or the United States. Therefore this is merely a protocol expressing intentions.”
Shushkevich goes on to debunk his former colleague, Leonid Kravchuk: “When he [Kravchuk] says that the Accord has been violated, I retort that there never was an accord. There was a memorandum. A declaration. The fact that this was never brought up to the level of an accord — well, that is the oversight of all-too-trusting people. All of this was done in the Soviet manner.” By that last bit, Shushkevich means (I think) that in Soviet times it was possible to cut corners and come to this type of agreement informally, with everybody knowing and trusting that it would be carried out. Since everybody basically worked for the same boss. But dealing with extraneous nations such as Great Britain and the U.S. is a very different matter. It’s like signing a contract with an insurance company: You have to read all the fine print and make sure everything is in writing, all the i’s dotted and so on. Otherwise you’ll get rolled. Which the Ukrainians did. And if it makes them feel any better, as I noted yesterday, the Russians got rolled too. By the same people. When they were given verbal assurances that NATO would not move one inch closer to Russian borders!
Kravchuk: “You can’t mess around…”
The BM was put together when Kravchuk was still in office, but only signed by a later Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma. Kravchuk still defends the document and insists that it is legally binding at the international level. It is understandable why this boils his grits to see something dissed that he put his own paw-print on. When asked by VZGLIAD to comment on Kostenko’s utterances, Kravchuk retorted thusly:
“It all depends on the intention of the signers. Which is more important: The Budapest Memorandum, or the Minsk Accords? The Minsk Accords were signed by a former President, an Ambassador, some guy from OSCE, and somebody else who has no authority, that is to say, somebody from the DPR or LPR. And yet they insist that this accord must be implemented. So, why shouldn’t the Budapest document be implemented too? You can’t be selective in the way you approach international documents. Any document that is signed at the international level by the heads of state, must be implemented. Otherwise, we might as well just bury the whole notion of international law.” Kravchuk argues against the notion that people can just interpret these documents however they please and implement them selectively and arbitrarily. He still can’t bring himself to admit that he might have been careless.
The article next goes on to ferret out the opinion of Alexei Martynov, who is the Director of a Russian think-tank called the International Institute of New States. Westie media describes Martynov as “pro-Putin” which, in their eyes, is like being pro-Satan and completely discredits everything that he thinks, says, or does.
According to Matynov, the Ukrainians have been tutored by their American coaches to keep hammering on the BM issue. “It is one of the mantras from the American thematic for the Ukrainian establishment. In reality, this [the BM] was just a protocol about specified intentions. During those years, the Ukrainian Nomenklatura was ready to leap out of their own trousers to achieve, not so much Independence, as for a spot at the trough. What lay in the balance was an opportunity to thieve their hearts out, to plunder the huge cache of Soviet assets.
“The Ukrainian bureaucrats didn’t know what to do with the nuclear arsenal that they inherited. It wasn’t something they could sell, in return for a suitcase of money laid under the table. The Memorandum bears the conditional character of a protocol about intentions. Among the national (ethnic) elites there was complete consensus, they all wanted to grab as much loot as possible, the sooner the better. Russia at that time promised to place them under its nuclear umbrella, and they all agreed to that. They were all thrilled that things turned out as they did. But now their (new) American masters discovered this technical thing [=the BM] and remind everyone about it from time to time, despite the fact that there were never any formal obligations. That particular protocol was based on Friendship; on the premise that Ukraine and Russia were brother nations.”
Martynov reminded readers of Russian President Putin’s recent statement, that the organizers of the Crimea blockade are “remarkable idiots”. Martynov: “The Ukrainians shot themselves in the foot, and now they declaim that the pistol. out of which they shot themselves, is of Russian design.”
In spite of all of this, Moscow does continue to observe the BM, according to Russian political leaders. In fact, the BM has nothing to do with Crimea, assers Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: “These reproaches have no foundation. The Russian Federation continues to fulfill its (international) obligations. But the fact remains: No one government in the world can absolutely guarantee the borders of another government. That is legalistically absurd. Those who say otherwise should sit down and very carefully read this Memorandum.”
Medvedev elucidates his point: Russia’s obligations, according to the Memorandum, touch upon “a situation in which Ukraine’s sovereignty is threatened; in which somebody threatens Ukraine. Everything that happened with the Crimea — is of a completely different order of reality. This was the people themselves, who identified themselves as an autonomous component of Ukraine; and who then stepped forward with an initiative for a referendum; and in the course of that referendum voted to leave that state.” Medvedev went on to remark cavalierly that “it happens sometimes that states split up.”
And the final quote is from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Last December Lavrov had commented that the Budapest Memorandum did not “contain any obligations to recognize the governmental coup which occurred in the Ukraine”.
And hopefully, all this clarifies that whole “Budapest Memorandum” internet meme and removes it from the Troll Catalogue of debating points!