Opinion

State Department celebrates Ukrainian disarmament deal Russia violated by seizing Crimea

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A top State Department official celebrated the signing of a 1994 deal in which Russia, along with the United States and United Kingdom promised to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine if the country surrendered the nuclear weapons it inherited from the former Soviet Union.

"Ukraine's unwavering commitment to its obligations under the [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] demonstrates that when a country places itself squarely within the NPT and diligently adheres to all of the Treaty's obligations, all nations benefit," Thomas Countryman, assistant secretary of state for International Security and Nonproliferation, said Monday in New York City.

Ukraine surrendered the security that comes from having nuclear weapons on the condition that the signatories guarantee its security and territorial integrity. Of course, Russia violated that commitment with the recent annexation of Crimea, calling into question the value of the deal, which was hailed at the time as a great victory for nuclear nonproliferation.

"In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom made a commitment to respect the independence, sovereignty, and existing borders of Ukraine," Countryman recalled. "The United States government remains committed to the Budapest Memorandum."

"As President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry have said, the United States strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," he said. "Last week, Vice President [Joe] Biden traveled to Kyiv in order to demonstrate our solidarity with the Ukrainian people. ... He made clear that Ukraine has a difficult road ahead, but it will not walk this road alone."

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