The United States Has a Contractual Responsibility to Defend Ukraine and Is No Better Than Russia by Failing to Do So – Opinion

These opinions are solely those of the author and may not reflect the views of

Since childhood, I consider myself to be a libertarian.  Since the 1980s, I felt the US was involved in wars and conflicts that we shouldn’t have been.  Whether it was Bosnia, Iraq, or even any action in Afghanistan post the death of Bin Laden, The US’s goals of nation-building and “spreading democracy” have often cost our nation more than any positive results that may have come from those actions.  Needless to add, we don’t need to get involved in any other international conflict.

In relation to events in Ukraine I want to prevent the US from being involved in any conflict that might lead to World War III.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, heralding the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine found itself in an interesting predicament:  It now was an independent country with a cache of nuclear weapons so large they could exterminate the majority of the populations of both the United States and Russia.  The West and Ukraine were in constant conflict for many years.  You have a nation that is still young, lacking stability over the long term, but has enough nuclear power to wipe out half of the planet.  You can get them to sign the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Ukraine declared independence in 1991 and pledged to join the NPT, turn over nearly 4000 nuclear weapons to Russia before the end 1994.

Ukraine kept to its word. On the 5th of December of that year, Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom signed the “Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Assession to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”  Essentially, to agree to denuclearization and the relinquishing of Ukraine’s inherited nuclear arsenal, Ukraine wanted some assurances, notably that their sovereignty was to be respected by all of the parties of the agreement, and defended should any threat to that sovereignty were to rise.

Ukraine demanded the following guarantees in exchange for its accession to the NPT:

1. In accordance with principles of Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe Final Act, Russia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and America, they reaffirm and support Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, as well as the current borders.

2. Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, as well as the United States of America, reaffirm that they are bound by their obligations to refrain from using force or threats against Ukraine’s territorial integrity or political autonomy. Their weapons against Ukraine will never be used except in self defense or other legal purposes in compliance with the Charter of the United Nations.

3. In accordance with principles of Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe Final Act, Russia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and America reiterate their support for Ukraine. They will refrain from any economic coercion that would subordinate to their interests the Ukraine exercising its rights and thus secure all benefits.

4. Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland reaffirm the commitment of their countries to request immediate United Nations Security Council actions to assist Ukraine. Ukraine is a non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. If Ukraine becomes a victim of any act of aggression or threat of aggression,

5. The United States of America and the Russian Federation reaffirm in the Ukraine case their agreement not to use any nuclear weapon against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

6. The United States of America, Ukraine and the Russian Federation will all consult each other in case of an emergency that could raise questions about these commitments.

The four leaders from the participating countries, including Boris Yeltsin (Russia) and President Bill Clinton (USA), signed this agreement. It commits the United States of America to defend the sovereignty Ukraine against US aggression, any aggression by any other participant country as well as any aggression that threatens Ukraine’s sovereignty.

This is why it’s important.  This is important because Russia likely wouldn’t take any of these actions against Ukraine during the past decade if Ukraine were armed with nukes. Not only is this opinion confirmed by the fact some of Russia’s actions in the last week have been against sites that potentially have held nuclear armaments which were not relinquished to Russia as part of the 1994 agreement, but also in the fact that Russia has threatened nuclear action against anyone who comes to the aid of Ukraine, including the US and UK.  In 1993, John J. Mearsheimer published a Council on Foreign Relations article warning about the unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine.

In that article entitled, “The Case for a Ukrainian Nuclear Deterrent,” Mearsheimer points out that absent that deterrent, Russia will likely seek aggression against the country, leading to greater conflict and potentially war, with the rest of Europe.

” A war between Russia and Ukraine would be a disaster.  Great power wars can be very dangerous and costly, leading to massive losses of lives and widespread turmoil throughout the world.  The likely result of that war – Russia’s reconquest of Ukraine- would injure prospects for peace throughout Europe.  This would raise the risk of a Russian–German collision and intensify security competition on the continent.

Listen now:

“A conventional war between Russia and Ukraine would entail vast military casualties and the possible murder of many thousands of civilians.  Russia and Ukraine have a long history of mutual hatred. This hostility combined with intermixing their populations raises the possibility that war could lead to ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian nature and mass murder.  These millions could be refugees fleeing to Western Europe.

Additionally, 14 active nuclear reactors are located in Ukraine. These could potentially produce new Chernobyls.  This war could have devastating consequences for the Balkans. More than 50K people have already died in that region since 1991.  The costs of using nuclear weapons are unimaginable, it is evident.

The threat of an escalation outside of Russia’s borders is real.  In the middle of war, Russia might attempt to seize other regions of former Soviet Union or take over some Eastern Europe.  Poland and Belarus might join forces with Russia against Ukraine or gang up with Ukraine to prevent Russian resurgence.”

Almost prophetic.  It is true that hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine as a result of Russian attacks on a Ukrainian Nuclear plant. In addition, Polish citizens are now crossing into Ukraine to confront the Russians.

The author finally comes to this conclusion:

“Ukrainian nuclear weapons are the only reliable deterrent to Russian aggression.”

These threats, which were well-known at the time the Memorandum was signed, were the motivating factor for Ukrainian officials to seek the assurances that they gave.  Russia has clearly broken the accord, which places both the US and UK under a legal obligation to act against Russia.

I don’t want another war, but US National Security demands not only that we defend against the aggression of those who attack us, but that we defend the obligations to which various treaties have committed us.  The agreement we signed was for peace and it lasted more than fifteen years.  Putin is now more confident in taking the actions he took because of the Obama Administration’s total failure to enforce that agreement, and the Biden Administration.  The US must rise to the occasion and tell Russia to stick with the treaty, even if it means using nuclear weapons.  We’re no better than Russia for not enforcing the treaty.

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