German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a few days ago in the Russian city of Sochi, which is next door to Russia-partitioned Georgia and a short Black Sea hop from Russian-occupied Crimea and eastern Ukraine. While the two talked of many things: of cease fires—and peace keepers—and pipelines—of Iran—and deals—and things—and why the region is boiling hot (they didn’t get to flying pigs), one thing they discussed jumped out at me. Deutsche Welle cited Merkel as insisting that
…the Minsk accord was the “only basis” to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine….
The Minsk accord (Minsk Protocol) is a 2014 “agreement” among Ukraine, Russia, and a rebel gang calling themselves Donetsk People’s Republic that implemented a cease fire in Ukraine’s Donbass region, comprised of the oblasts Donetsk and Luhansk on Ukraine’s border with Russia. The accord codified Russia’s occupation of those two oblasts and the resulting partition of Ukraine with the rebel gang fronting for Russia. The accord carefully did not address Russian-occupied Crimea.
Merkel plainly has walked away from the much prior (1994) Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. This agreement consists of three included agreements that guarantee the territorial and political integrity of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, and it was signed by the US, the UK—and Russia. The core of the Budapest Memorandum consists of these six guarantees as they pertain to Ukraine:
- Respect Ukrainian independence, sovereignty, and the existing borders
- Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine
- Refrain from using economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence its politics
- Seek immediate UN Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, “if [it] should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used”
- Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Ukraine
- Consult with one another if questions arise regarding these commitments
This is Germany’s sellout of Ukraine. We need to start correcting our own failure regarding the Budapest Memorandum. I’ve written elsewhere of the need for a NATO-like mutual defense pact among the US, the Baltic States, Poland, and Ukraine, among others in eastern (and eventually northern) Europe. It’s time to get a move on.