Empty Promises: The Denuclearization of Ukraine and its Effects Twenty Years Later

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Paisley Ann Meyer


The annexation of Crimea and continued Russian aggression into Ukraine’s eastern border directly defied the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Under this agreement, Ukraine was given sovereignty and territorial assurances, and in return, it gave back its nuclear arsenal to Russia. This paper explores why this decision was made and explains how this action benefited Ukraine. It explores Ukrainian relations with Russia and Western democracies in the early 1990s, and it shows how Ukraine was economically dependent on the continued support of these states. The purpose of this paper is to counter the argument some Ukrainian politicians and numerous journalists began making following Crimea’s annexation, stating that Ukraine would have been better off relying on nuclear deterrence than international agreements.

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