Revealed: The forgotten treaty which could drag the US and UK into WAR with Russia if Putin’s troops intervene in Ukraine

  • The agreement sees signatories promise to  protect Ukraine’s borders
  • It was signed by Bill  Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma in 1994
  • Ukrainian parliament has now reached out  directly to all the countries who signed the treaty
  • Putin currently has 150,000 troops on  Ukraine’s borders and it is reported some have crossed into the  country
  • President Obama says he is ‘deeply  concerned’ by the news
  • The US and Britain have both made ‘crisis  calls’ to President Putin to warn him to respect territorial  boundaries

ByJill Reillyand Lizzie Edmonds

PUBLISHED:          13:05  EST, 28 February 2014      | UPDATED:          06:41 EST, 1 March  2014

A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain  could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s  troops cross into the country.

Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and  Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to  the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet  republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Technically it means that if Russia has  invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going  to war.

The revelation comes as reports suggest the  Kremlin was moving up to 2,000 troops across the Black Sea from  Novorossiysk to  their fleet base at Sevastopol.

At least 20 men wearing the uniform of the  Russian fleet and carrying  automatic rifles surrounded a Ukrainian border guard  post in a standoff  near the port yesterday.

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The Budapest Memorandum was signed in 1991 by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma - the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine. It promises to protect Ukraine's borders, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons

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The Budapest Memorandum was signed in 1991 by Bill  Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the  USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine. It promises to protect Ukraine’s borders, in return  for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons

Last night it was still unclear the exact  scale of Russian boots on the  ground in Crimea or the identity of gunmen who  have taken over airports  in Simferopol and Sevastopol – though reports suggest  they are Russian  marines or Moscow- controlled militias.

The action came as President Obama delivered  blunt warnings to Moscow.

‘We are now deeply concerned by reports of  military movements taken by the  Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,’ he told  reporters at the White  House.

‘Any violation of  Ukraine’s sovereignty and  territorial integrity would be deeply  destabilizing,’ he said in a brief  appearance.

‘The United States will  stand with the  international community in affirming that there will be  costs for any military  intervention in Ukraine.’

U.S. officials also said the President could  scrap plans to attend an international summit in Russia and take negotiations on  deepening trade ties with the country off the table in response to Russian  involvement in the Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel added: “This  could be a very dangerous situation if this continues in a provocative way.”

Asked about options in a CBS News interview,  he said that “We’re trying to deal with a diplomatic focus, that’s the  appropriate, responsible approach.”

Both the U.S. and the UK are advising against  all non-essential trips to Ukraine – especially Crimea.

former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said in an interview that war could be an option 'if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.'

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former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton,  who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said in an interview that  war could be an option ‘if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally  binding.’

NATO also asked Russia not to take action  that could escalate tension. However Moscow responded by telling the  organization to ‘refrain’ from provocative statements on Ukraine and respect its  ‘non-bloc’ status.

Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British  Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said that war could be an option ‘if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is  legally binding.’

It promises to protect Ukraine’s borders, in  return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.

Kiev has demanded the agreement is activated  after insisting their borders had been violated.

In response Mr Brenton said in a BBC radio  interview: ‘If indeed this is a Russian invasion of Crimea and if we do conclude  the [Budapest]  Memorandum is legally binding then it’s very difficult to avoid  the  conclusion that we’re going to go to war with Russia’.

Ukraine accused Russia of a ‘military  invasion and occupation’, saying Russian  troops have taken up positions around  a coast guard base and two  airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula.

Russia kept silent on the accusations, as the  crisis deepened between two of Europe’s largest countries.

Any Russian military incursion in  Crimea  would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine’s conflict, which  saw  pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych flee last weekend after  three months of  anti-government protests. Yanukovych  vowed Friday at a news conference in Russia to ‘keep fighting for the  future of  Ukraine,’ though he called any military action ‘unacceptable.’

Moscow has vowed to  protect Russian-speaking  Ukrainians in Crimea, where it has a major  naval base, and Ukraine and the West  have warned Russia to stay away.

Russia did not confirm its troops were  involved in Friday’s action in Crimea, which would be a major escalation.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s parliament adopted a  resolution demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against  Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called for a U.N.  Security Council meeting on the crisis.

THE BUDAPEST REFERENDUM

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances  was a international treaty signed on February, 5, 1994, in  Budapest.

The diplomatic document saw signatories  make promises to each other as part of the denuclearization  of former Soviet  republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

It was signed by Bill Clinton, John Major,  Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and  Ukraine.

The agreement promises to protest  Ukraine’s borders in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear  weapons.

It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a  diplomatic document.

It was an unprecedented case in  contemporary international life and international law.

Whether is it legally binding in  complex.

‘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 told Radio Free  Europe.

‘I can only describe this as a military  invasion and occupation,’ Ukraine’s newly named interior minister, Arsen Avakov,  wrote in a Facebook post.

The chief of Ukraine’s security council,  Andriy Parubiy, seemed to strike a less strident tone later in the day, saying  gunmen had tried to ‘seize’ the airports in the Crimean cities of Simferopol and  Sevastopol but insisting in comments to the Interfax news agency that ‘de-facto  the airports are controlled by the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine.’

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service also  said about 30 Russian marines from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – which is based in  Sevastopol – had taken up position outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard base in the  area. It said the marines said they were there to prevent any weapons at the  base from being seized by extremists.

Russia’s defense ministry had no comment.

Yanukovych made his first public appearance  since fleeing Ukraine in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, not far  from the Ukrainian border. It was the first confirmation that he had left the  country, and he said he was ‘forced’ to do so only after his family received  threats.

‘I intend to keep fighting for the future of  Ukraine,’ he said.

Yanukovych said he supports Crimea’s  residents who are worried about ‘nationalists’ in Kiev and added that Russia  cannot stand by while events in Ukraine unfold. He denied, however, that this  amounts to a call for military intervention.

‘Any military action in this situation is  unacceptable,’ he said.

Tensions rising: A Russian soldier on an armoured personnel carrier halted on a road in Ukraine around 20 miles from Sebastapol, where there is a large Russian military presence

 Tensions rising: A Russian soldier on an armoured  personnel carrier halted on a road in Ukraine around 20 miles from Sebastapol,  where there is a large Russian military presence

US warns Russia: Stay out of the Ukraine

Armed Russian navy servicemen surround a Ukrainian border guard base in Balaclava, in the Crimea region

 Armed Russian navy servicemen surround a Ukrainian  border guard base in Balaclava, in the Crimea region
An armed Ukrainian border guard looks out of a window as the base is surrounded by armed Russian navy servicemen in Balaclava

 An armed Ukrainian border guard looks out of a window as  the base is surrounded by armed Russian navy servicemen in Balaclava

The prosecutor-general’s office in Kiev said  it would seek Yanukovych’s extradition to Ukraine, where he is wanted on  suspicion of mass murder in last week’s violent clashes between protesters and  police, during which over 80 people were killed.

Associated Press journalists approaching the  Sevastopol airport found the road leading up to it blocked by two military  trucks and a handful of gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying assault  rifles.

A car with Russian military plates was  stopped at the roadblock. A man wearing a military uniform with a Russian flag  on his sleeve got out of the car and was allowed to enter on foot after a brief  discussion with the gunmen.

The moment armed men storm Crimea government  building

At the airport serving Simferopol, commercial  flights were landing and taking off despite dozens of armed men in military  uniforms without markings patrolling with assault rifles. They didn’t stop or  search people leaving or entering the airport, and refused to talk to  journalists.

One man who identified himself only as  Vladimir said the men were part of the Crimean People’s Brigade, which he  described as a self-defense unit ensuring that no ‘radicals and fascists’ arrive  from other parts of Ukraine. There was no way to verify his account.

The airport deployments came a day after  masked gunmen with rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles seized the  parliament and government offices in Simferopol and raised the Russian flag.  Ukrainian police cordoned off the area but didn’t confront the gunmen. They  remained in control of the buildings Friday.

The Russian foreign and defense  ministries  had no comment. Russia’s state RIA Novosti and Interfax cited an unnamed  official from the Russian Black Sea Fleet denying  involvement, saying Russian  servicemen stationed in Crimea have not  moved into the airports and denying  that the Russian military was in  control there.

Tensions between the two countries were high,  however. Russia continued with  massive combat readiness exercises involving  most of its troops in  western and southern Russia that it said were unrelated  to the Ukraine  conflict. The moves were reminiscent of Cold War brinksmanship.

Russian military forces are blockading an airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, an act Ukraine's new interior minister has announced branded an 'armed invasion'

 Russian military forces are blockading an airport in the  Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, an act Ukraine’s new interior minister  has announced branded an ‘armed invasion’
As events in the Crimea region heighten tensions with neighboring Russia, this morning armed men also took over the other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, according to a Facebook post by Mr Avakov

As events in the Crimea region heighten tensions with  neighboring Russia, this morning armed men also took over the other main Crimean  airport, Simferopol, according to a Facebook post by Mr Avakov
Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings were seen patrolling the airport in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea

 Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without  markings were seen patrolling the airport in Simferopol, the capital of  Crimea
The move came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told Ukraine's new prime minister that the U.S. welcomes the formation of the country's new government

 The move came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told  Ukraine’s new prime minister that the U.S. welcomes the formation of the  country’s new government

The Kremlin, in a statement published late  Thursday, said President Vladimir Putin had instructed the government to  ‘maintain contacts with the counterparts in Kiev in what concerns trade and  economic ties between Russia and Ukraine.’

Moscow has been sending mixed signals about  Ukraine but pledged to respect its territorial integrity. Putin has long dreamed  of pulling Ukraine, a country of 46 million people considered the cradle of  Russian civilization, closer into Moscow’s orbit.

Meanwhile, Swiss prosecutors announced they  had launched a criminal investigation against Yanukovych and his son Aleksander  over ‘aggravated money laundering.’

They said police and Geneva’s chief  prosecutor conducted a search and seized documents Thursday at the premises of a  company owned by Aleksander Yanukovych.

Ukraine's ex-President Yanukovych has made his first public appearance since being ousted, telling a news conference that he was going to fight for his country's future

 Ukraine’s ex-President Yanukovych has made his first  public appearance since being ousted, telling a news conference that he was  going to fight for his country’s future

Switzerland and Austria both said they would  freeze any assets Yanukovych and his entourage might have in those countries.

Ukraine’s population is divided in loyalties  between Russia and the West, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties  with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for  support.

Crimea, a southeastern peninsula of Ukraine  that has semi-autonomous status, was seized by Russian forces in the 18th  century under Catherine the Great, and was once the crown jewel in Russian and  then Soviet empires.

It became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet  leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred jurisdiction from Russia, a move that was a  mere formality until the 1991 Soviet collapse meant Crimea landed in an  independent Ukraine.

In a bid to shore up Ukraine’s fledgling  administration, the International Monetary Fund has said it is ‘ready to  respond’ to Ukraine’s bid for financial assistance; Ukraine’s finance ministry  has said it needs $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default.

The European Union is also considering  emergency loans for a country that is the chief conduit of Russian natural gas  to western Europe.

And Putin, in his statement, asked his  government to ‘hold consultations with foreign partners including the IMF and  the G8 nations to provide financial aid to Ukraine.’

Map locating the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, where mysterious armed troops occupy the airport; includes information on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. MCT 2014<p><br />
With UKRAINE, by MCT

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The Ukraine should be in the business of the Ukrainians. The EU/UK/USA/Russia need to KEEP OUT of it along with all the oligarchs interested in raping this country of their land and minerals, the gas pipelines notwithstanding. Despite what the corporate media says, Yanukovych remains Ukraines president, until such times that he’s unelected. Crimea is where Russia’s naval base is located – one should expect they’d protect it – I know we’d protect ours…
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