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 January 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.
Then February 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, violating the Budapest Memorandum, among other agreements.
In February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine again this time aiming to topple the Volodimir Zelenskyy government, but have failed so far.
Speaking in an interview with RTÉ, Clinton says Russia won’t have invaded Ukraine if Kyiv still had its nuclear deterrent.
‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
Mr Clinton said western support for Ukraine should remain steadfast.
‘I think what Mr. Putin did was very wrong, and I believe Europe and the United States should continue to support Ukraine.
‘There may come a time when the Ukrainian government believes that they can think of a peace agreement they could live with, but I don’t think the rest of us should cut and run on them.’