The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom tried to pretend Tuesday that Moscow couldn’t have violated the Budapest Memorandum because that agreement only contained one provision: not to attack Ukraine with nuclear weapons.
But in fact, as commentators on Twitter noted right away, the Budapest Memorandum contains six provisions, which are plainly visible to anyone who visits the site linked by the Russian Embassy and scrolls down.
In other words, the Russian Embassy assumed that it could fool readers into thinking that there was only one provision because the screenshot just showed the first half of the webpage.
It didn’t work.
Twitter users linked to the English translation of the Budapest Memorandum signed in 1994 by Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The purpose of the agreement was to reassure Ukraine that if the country gave up its nuclear arsenal, it would retain its territorial integrity.
Users lambasted the embassy for trying to pass off painfully obvious falsehoods.
“Thanks for demonstrating your lack of intelligence. Just wondering if idiocy was an employment requirement for your position,” one user wrote.
Noted independent journalist Eliot Higgins also tweeted, “I think the @RussianEmbassy needs to explain themselves over this one.”
Brookings Institution scholar Steven Pifer wrote, “Lavrov claim that #Russia did not violate Budapest Memorandum because it did not threaten Ukraine with nuclear weapons is totally absurd.”
Ariana Gic Perry, who edits a journal on Russian affairs, said that “Russian FM Lavrov needs a “Budapest Memorandum for Dummies“. So here is a ‘dumbed down’ version just for him.”
The first and most obvious point of the memorandum is that the three countries agreed to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”
The second point is an agreement to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.” While the provision noted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov does exist in the document, it is listed by the Council on Foreign Relations as the fifth point.
Lavrov delivered his remarks in response to a question from the UNIAN news agency, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. Russia is widely held to have repeatedly violated the agreement repeatedly, a point implied by a reporter, who raised the issue of Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the clear annexation of Crimea.
But according to Lavrov, the Budapest Memoranum “contains only one obligation – i.e. not to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine. No one has made any threats to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.”
Lavrov: Russia never violated Budapest memorandum. It contained only 1 obligation, not to attack Ukraine with nukes pic.twitter.com/yR25Y6SaGP
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) January 27, 2016
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