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The appears to be a thing called the Budapest Memorandum that we signed back in 1994 to get Ukraine to give up its nukes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/...

(1) to respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders;
(2) to protect Ukraine from outer aggression and not to conduct aggression toward Ukraine;
(3) not to put economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence her politics;
(4) not to use nuclear arms against Ukraine.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

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

Anyone ever hear of or remember this?

The relevant text looks like this...

4.The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.
http://en.wikisource.org/...

Not even sure if it was a treaty passed by the Senate, but we seem to have some level of commitment here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Like England and France rescued Poland in '39? (4+ / 0-)

    The trajectory of the American Empire right now is disturbingly familiar to the falling one of the British starting in 1930.

    Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizam!

    by fourthcornerman on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:41:25 PM PST

    •  well that just took (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, LordMike

      50 years longer than expected. But had England/France honored their commitment to the Czechs in 1938, there likely would have been a lot less dead people.

      •  How exactly would England have done that? (3+ / 0-)

        With the Army of zero men they had posed in position to fight back against a Nazi invasion?

        With the zero combat aircraft at their disposal within range to provide air cover?

        Without a doubt Chamberlain was a fool to believe that Hitler ever saw any treaty as more than a temporary means to an end.

        Equally beyond doubt - it would have taken England at least six months to deploy any forces remotely capable of assisting against a Nazi invasion of the Sudatanland.

        French forces had less than no mobility, were entirely trained and armed for defensive purposes, and as we saw not long later were so poorly led that they would have made little difference.

        The mostly likely outcome would have been British forces cut off hundreds of miles from the sea, captured and used as leverage to extort a settlement.

        Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

        by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:04:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, Chamberlain bought necessary time. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos, sjbob, JesseCW, Major Kong

          I don't think that was what he was deliberately doing, but that's the way it worked out.

          Art is the handmaid of human good.

          by joe from Lowell on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:17:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  England had the name number of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jackson L Haveck, riprof

          men in position to help against an invasion of Poland. And the same number of aircraft that could reach Warsaw, zero. Yet Britain and France went to war then. When they were is a worse position compared to where they were vis-à-vis Germany a year earlier.

          Had Germany tried to invade Czechoslovakia, they would have taken losses, and would not have had all that Czech hardware to used to invade Poland in 1939.  

          They would not have gotten the Skoda works intact and producing for them for a year. They would not have had several million more people.

          The terrain there was much more difficult, and Poland could have joined the coalition against Germany. Could Germany have handled England/France/Czech/Poland at the same time?

          •  And had Chamberlain been blessed with the common (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            unfangus

            sense of the average goose, he'd have returned home talking about the need to arm to resist a rising German threat instead of babbling about "peace in our time".

            But that wouldn't have changed the situation on the ground

            Germany wouldn't have had to face England.  England had nothing in the theater with which to face Germany.  

            France was simply not willing to launch a war over Czechoslovakia and I see no strong case that Poland was either.  Trapped between the USSR and Germany, the Poles weren't much looking for war.

            But even if France was willing, what did they really have to offer?  Poorly led troops who - whatever their personal merits as men may have been - had been trained almost entirely for defensive warfare behind well prepared defenses (WWI).

            What Germany would have faced would have been Czechoslovakia.  And once Hitler had lost 100,000 men crushing through the border and raced across the plains to conquer the rest of the country, not all that much would have turned out differently except that the USSR may not have entered the war at all.

            And the USSR inflicted 4 of 5 casualties suffered by German forces.  They won the war while the West helped out.

            Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

            by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:32:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  France being unwilling to (0+ / 0-)

              take the offensive was always the problem. Up through 1939 they had a huge advantage on the ground. Germany would have needed all it's strength go take on the Czechs.

              The Germans had less than 50 divisions available iirc and most would have had to go on the attack, leaving a handful to guard the east and west frontiers. But France had no Napolean who would have known what to do.

              Letting them have it just made the Germans stronger and put the Allies in a worse position by 1940.

            •  They already were arming (0+ / 0-)

              England was already in the process of rearming in 1938 but they were just starting to get production of modern aircraft ginned up.

              Regardless of Chamberlain saying "Peace in our time" it was fairly obvious that there was going to be a war with Germany, the only question was when.

              If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

              by Major Kong on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 07:38:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  German army in 1938 wasn't particularly impressive (0+ / 0-)

          either.

          •  Right, Hitler wasn't ready for war in 1938 (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG, Jackson L Haveck

            And invading Czechoslovakia, with it's tough natural borders and well-trained and equipped army, would have been a far more difficult nut to crack than wide-open Poland, which actually sent guys on horses with lances to fighting German panzers the following year.

            But Neville fucked it all up.

            •  Poland did have some tanks as well. But by then (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jackson L Haveck

              German army was much stronger. And they got a lot of tanks in Czechoslovakia. Terrain issue is important as well.

              •  Oh, I know they did have tanks (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FG

                The Poles weren't in the Dark Ages or anything, but they were badly ill-equipped compared to the Nazis. Big army, but not a lot of modern weaponry compared to what was coming at them.

            •  At least, that's what all the 9th grade world (0+ / 0-)

              history teachers have to say.

              Hitler could have started the war within six weeks.  There would have been fuck-all the UK could do effectively for several months.

              Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

              by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:23:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not arguing that... (0+ / 0-)

                ...but Hitler was in a much weaker position in 1938 than he would be the following year.

                And as I said, Czechoslovakia was a much tougher nut to crack. A German invasion of Czechoslovakia could have been like the disastrous and bloody Soviet invasion of Finland a couple years later.

                •  Hitler hadn't purged his officer corps. (0+ / 0-)

                  Not to impugn the legendary bravery of the Finns.

                  Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

                  by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:33:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, but it shouldn't be forgotten that... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  unfangus

                  ...Sudetenland was heavily ethnically German (a quarter of Czechoslovakia was German-speak) and there were many irredentists there who wished to be joined to Germany and not happy with the central government in Prague. Having that kind of opposition inside the nation would have been most unhelpful to the Czech army.

                  Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                  by Meteor Blades on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:31:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  The German Army in 1938 was a lot (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG

            closer to the scene with internal lines of supply and communication.

            Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

            by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:21:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Easy to say with 20/20 hindsight (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unfangus

        But in 1938, with the Somme and Verdun still fresh in everyone's mind, nobody in England or France was exactly eager for another go at it.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:06:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  you mean: like England and France failed to (0+ / 0-)

      rescue Poland in '39

      it was defeated and occupied by Germany and after WW2 it was enslaved behind the iron curtain

      We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

      by Lepanto on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:53:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't see how this obligates anyone to militarily (6+ / 0-)

    come to Ukraine's defense.

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:44:06 PM PST

  •  Well, I remember, and it is a real thing (6+ / 0-)

    They covered it on Maddow on MSNBC tonight.

    It is not a treaty, so Senate passage was a moot issue.

    It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document under which signatories made promises to each other as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
    But, engagements have happened in the past with flimsier paper to bolster the action. So, watch this space, I guess.
  •  That clause to protect them is a little confusing. (3+ / 0-)

    From the actual treaty, not the summary

    4.The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.
    So our protection appears to be limited to asking the UN to help if nuclear weapons are an issue. Interestingly Russia, as a signatory to the memorandum, looks to be in violation of it. What that means I have no idea.

    Food processed to be nothing more than simple starches with two dozen flavorings and stabilizers added to make it appear to be food isn't "food". It's "feed" -- what you give to livestock to fatten them up for slaughter.

    by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:48:55 PM PST

    •  i'm thinking that you're (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell, buffie

      right about going to the UN being our only duty. Which kind of astounds me that they gave up their nuclear deterrent for...nothing.

      They might be regretting that real soon.

      •  I'm guessing there was some cash involved (4+ / 0-)

        And at the time that's what they needed. Russia also probably kicked in some promises about natural gas or $$$ for the port rights in Sevastopol.

        Food processed to be nothing more than simple starches with two dozen flavorings and stabilizers added to make it appear to be food isn't "food". It's "feed" -- what you give to livestock to fatten them up for slaughter.

        by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:54:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  US aid (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          unfangus

          The US also gave a lot of aid to Ukraine after the Budapest Agreement -- even though at that point, they still had a leftover corrupt communist hack as President.  Kazakhstan too got a ton of US money despite not being one of the model post-communist countries, basically in exchange for their denuclearization.

  •  So we take it to the Security Council (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell, dougymi, buffie

    if Russia invades. Russia vetoes any action, case closed.

    Besides,  an attorney would argue that the language only applies if a nuclear attack is threatened, or a nuclear weapon used.

    •  Stop looking at #4 (0+ / 0-)

      It's #2 that's the issue here.

      "The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations."
      •  Which still brings us back (0+ / 0-)

        to Russia's veto power in the U.N. Security Council - as far as actually taking concrete action is concerned. There are any number of nations who commit acts of aggression with utter impunity provided they have a sponsor with veto power on the Security Council - see Israel as exhibit "A".

  •  What, me worry? (0+ / 0-)

    Don't worry, these kinds of agreements are just so many fading red lines to be disregarded. And surely Chamberlain Obama will confer with our allies and come up with a peaceful accommodation. I suggest Munich as a good place to meet.

  •  13 years in Afghanistan with no light at the end (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fToRrEeEsSt

    of the tunnel

    I'd say a land war in central eastern Europe could be won in a couple of millenia

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:00:24 PM PST

  •  My reading of the situation is this... (9+ / 0-)

    Russia will secure Crimea and its bases in Sebastapol.  That is what is happening right now.  The people of Crimea will either ask to federate with the Russian Federation or secede from Ukraine.  The US will breathe a sigh or relief (except for the Nuland-Kagan clan).  Life will go on in the remainder of Ukraine.

    Or, the Russian ethnic majority regions of Ukraine will use the Russian presence  in Crimea to ask for federation with the Russian Federation or secede from Ukraine.  Not sure of Ukraine reaction.  Russia has decision whether to send troops to defend these regions.  Things get a little dicey.

    Or, Russian troops invade Ukraine heading toward Kiev and intending to restore Yanukovych and his regime.  US and UK go to UN Security Council.  Things get really dicey.

    My expectation is that Russia's action will stop at the first option.  However, irrational passions have caused events to spiral out of hand before.  From the US-Russia perspective, it depends on how closely Kerry and Lavrov are consulting on the unfolding situation.

    Look for Obama to do a bit of chest-beating to satisfy the folks who think there's still a Cold War going on.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:06:04 PM PST

    •  Hi. I think Russia will stop at Crimea, too. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, FG, jayden, buffie

      Remember in Georgia, when we were assured that the Russian tanks were rolling all the way to Tblisi?

      Not so much, as it turned out. They secured the pro-Russian area. That's probably what will happen again.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:21:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nailed it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buffie

      Ethnic tensions in mainland Ukraine seem to be maybe settling down a bit? I enjoyed this story, as an example...

      Pragmatic progressive. Oregonian, Cascadian, and American. Keeper of the DKE glossary.

      by SaoMagnifico on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:23:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is still a cold war going on.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fourthcornerman, FG

      ....it's just that we're not in it anymore, but the Ukranians sure are.  If Obama considers that chest thumping, it's pretty lame.  Why hasn't NATO deployed any operations to the Black Sea for "observation".  That would be some decent chest thumping.  But, it's all talk and Putin knows it.  He can do whatever he wants, 'cos the West doesn't care one bit.

      GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

      by LordMike on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:49:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are no Russian ethnic majority Oblasts (0+ / 0-)

      in Ukraine other than Crimea.

      And even in the Crimea it's not clear that there still is a Russian ethnic majority.

      There was one in 2001, with 58%, but there have been considerable changes in demographics there since 1989, so that majority may not even exist anymore.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 01:11:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Right. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, FG, Andrew F Cockburn

    Either we go to war against a superpower or we default on a contract. Hmmm. What do you think we'll do?

  •  i remember it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, Lawrence

    because it was a way of de-nuclearizing ukraine, something which all the major powers wanted at the time.

  •  Let's hope no one shoots the archduke (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, Major Kong

    I'm getting that "here we go again" feeling.

    Sometimes Putin is really an asshole.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:59:29 PM PST

  •  I think some people want to live... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buddabelly, jayden, buffie

    ...in interesting times, like 1914. Alas, it's just boring old 2014.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:17:52 PM PST

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