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Clinton regrets persuading Ukraine to denuclearize in 1994
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said in an interview with RTÉ that he regrets persuading Ukraine to give up its nuclear arsenal.
“I feel a personal stake because I got them (Ukraine) to agree to give up their nuclear weapons. And none of them believe that Russia would have pulled this stunt if Ukraine still had their weapons,” he said.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became the world’s third-largest nuclear power. But in 1994, after the talks between the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine, Clinton announced that Ukraine agreed to remove nuclear weapons from its territory.
In 1994, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and British Prime Minister John Major signed the Budapest Memorandum under which Ukraine agreed to remove all nuclear weapons from its soil in exchange for security guarantees from the signatories – the U.S., the U.K., and Russia.
“I knew that President Putin did not support the agreement (Former Russian) President Yeltsin made never to interfere with Ukraine’s territorial boundaries – an agreement he made because he wanted Ukraine to give up their nuclear weapons,” Clinton said, as quoted by RTÉ.
“They (Ukraine) were afraid to give them up because they thought that’s the only thing that protected them from an expansionist Russia.”
In February 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, violating the Budapest Memorandum, among other agreements.
“When it became convenient to him, President Putin broke it and first took Crimea. And I feel terrible about it because Ukraine is a very important country,” Clinton said.