The former Democratic president, Bill Clinton, said on RTE Prime Time that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this past February might have been avoided if his government had not launched an accord in 1994 to remove nuclear weapons from the nation.
In an interview published on Tuesday, Clinton stated that he is responsible for Ukraine’s decision to forego nuclear weapons as part of a decades-old deal between Kyiv, the United States, and Russia.
In 1994, Clinton, Boris Yeltsin of Russia, and Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine agreed to eliminate the Soviet nuclear weapons left in Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed. In that year, in another deal called the Budapest Memorandum, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia agreed to respect Ukrainian territory in exchange for handing over Ukraine’s nuclear weapons to Russia. This assurance was betrayed in 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin grabbed Crimea while the Obama administration looked the other way.
Clinton said if not for what he did, Russia would not have tried its invasion if Ukraine still had its armaments. Weaponry is a deterrent.
Yeltsin made this pledge because he wanted Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons.
According to Hillary, the Ukrainians were “afraid” to give up their nuclear weapons because they were the “one thing that saved them from an expansionist Russia.”
Clinton said he had “awful” feelings about the deal that seemed to have opened the path for an endless deadly battle.
According to U.K. intelligence estimates made in February, at least 16,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed due to the fighting, one year after Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine, while the U.S. has claimed that civilian casualties might be as high as 40,000. The United States believes that each side has lost roughly 100,000 soldiers.
Unless a peace accord acceptable to the Ukrainians can be achieved, the former president thinks the United States should keep supporting Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.
What Mr. Putin did was wrong, and I think the U.S. and Europe should keep backing Ukraine. The Ukrainian administration may eventually conclude that they can craft a peace accord with which they are comfortable, but I do not believe that the rest of us should abandon them at that point.