The West’s unhelpful promise – 28th anniversary of the Budapest Memorandum

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the Document that sealed Ukraine’s fate and ensured Russian unchecked aggression against a state that has not invaded anyone in its short history.

The Budapest Memorandum between the UK, US, Ukraine and Russia affirmed, in six short paragraphs, the commitment of these states to support Ukraine against possible aggression of a nuclear state, or so we thought. Carefully worded to be noncommittal, the Memorandum calls on UN Security Council actions instead of requiring the signatories to offer immediate support.

Coming out of the Cold War, with the Soviet Union as a permanent member of the Security Council, it is beyond belief to think that the West thought this mechanism was an effective means of curtailing possible aggression. At the time, the faux-Communist colossus was an immovable political giant of work politics, backed by a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the world several times over. Today, Russia continues to ride the waves of its Soviet past to deter any assistance to Ukraine by brandishing its nuclear arsenal any time it gets a chance, begging the question of the West’s unconscious complicity before the Kremlin’s aggression through appeasement and thoughtless acceptance of past Russian chauvinism.

The UN Security Council includes all three signatories who alleged to have promised protection to Ukraine. Indeed, there has been much ink spent on the general inability of the UN to deal with issues arising from one of its Security Council members wishing to impose its will on other nations, a point already known in 1998. With Ukraine being rendered, in essence, defenceless against a nuclear state, as can be seen from the lack of desire to fully commit by other nations to fight against Russian aggression in view of the possible Russian nuclear strike – and although one can make the argument of a different geopolitical narrative of the time – the UK and US have opened up Ukraine for Russia to abuse.

The spirit of the Memorandum, however, identifies the West’s inability to comprehend the danger posed by Russia from the very start of its alleged democratic transformation.

With Ukraine and other post-Soviet states willingly surrendering their nuclear arsenals in exchange for US support – in Ukraine’s case it was circa half a billion US dollars and Russian made fuel for its nuclear power plants, thus allowing Russia to be the only nuclear state of the former Soviet republics, saw the beginning of the grand chauvinistic argument of historical succession, seen in its zenith as Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine.

It is beyond doubt – any un-propagandised student of history will attest that the notion of continuity between a mediaeval feudal state – a no less feudal renaissance monarchy and later states is pure fiction. Yet, Russia persists with its self-aggrandising narrative of entitled ancestry and we become involuntary accomplices through actions and inactions in areas so mundane that they don’t even reach our radar but form the core of the subconscious.

Whether it is the nuclear disarmament of all but one state of the former Soviet republic, inclusion of Russia in a Memorandum of protection for a state it has long considered a colony, and at a time Russia was barely able to feed itself – let alone protect someone, or continued and inexplicable acceptance of Soviet and communist symbols – images that presided over the death of millions of people and torture of many more – we persist to appease and allow Russia to pursue its aggressive narrative.

On the 28th anniversary of a document that not only failed to protect a state which so willingly gave up its weapons of mass destruction, it is time to consider how our actions can resonate in history, looking beyond the immediate symbolism and effect of present decisions.

In the UK, we see Russian money in property and business, we see communist symbols that many associate with actions that the West usually attributes to the swastika that appear in shops and adverts, and we see Russian propaganda agents – the Russian Orthodox Church – functioning as a charity. It is time to review what complicity means or act to rid ourselves of fake history, fake charity and fake narrative and deal with Russian elements within our society that obstruct the true vision of reality.


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