Ukraine is under a massive Russian assault. Kiev is under siege. Russian President Vladimir Putin's main objective is to keep Ukraine permanently out of NATO, the western nations' military alliance. Putin says the West has broken its promise to not expand NATO after the end of the Cold War. Ukraine is complaining that the West has left Ukraine at the mercy of Russia's powerful military after it agreed to give up its nuclear weapons under firm security assurances contained in the Budapest Memorandum.
|NATO Expansion. Source: BBC
When Ukraine became independent in the early 1990s, it was the third-largest nuclear power in the world with thousands of nuclear arms. In the years that followed, Ukraine made the decision to denuclearize completely based on security guarantee from the U.S., the U.K. and Russia, known as the Budapest Memorandum. Ukrainian analyst Mariana Budjeryn explained in an interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly as follows:
"It is clear that Ukrainians knew they weren't getting the exactly - sort of these legally binding, really robust security guarantees they sought. But they were told at the time that the United States and Western powers - so certainly, at least, the United States and Great Britain, they take their political commitments really seriously. This is a document signed at the highest level by the heads of state".
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