Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his news conference on January 26, planted even more confidence in the Ukrainians that no treaties and agreements with Russia are worth the paper they are written on.

Russia’s hybrid war in Ukraine, and for some time, in Europe and the Middle East, is forcing the Kremlin to generate and articulate blatant lies. For example, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia had not violated the Budapest Memorandum, which was supposed to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity, as Moscow never threatened Kyiv with nuclear weapons. "Budapest Memorandum includes  a single commitment - not to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine. No one has, and the threat of use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine has never been voiced," said Lavrov.

However, a document signed by Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, names a few other guarantees for Ukraine, which voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal. The first paragraph of the Budapest Memorandum reads in black and white that the guarantor countries "  reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine … to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine." That is, at the time the document was signed, Crimea “unfairly” being part of Ukraine did not bother Russia.

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That is, at the time the document was signed, Crimea “unfairly” being part of Ukraine did not bother Russia.

The next paragraph states that the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States "reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine." In addition, these guarantors promised that "none of their weapons [not only nuclear arms] will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense…"

Those interested would be astonished to see another provision of the Budapest Memorandum, requiring Russia to “refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty." Regular trade wars, which Moscow has been waging regularly against its “fraternal” nation, the Ukrainian complaint to the WTO, and, finally, the proceedings in the Stockholm Arbitration – it all illustrate perfectly how “keen” Russia is in fulfilling this obligation.

Exhausted with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Europe has been trying recently to seat both parties at the negotiating table and push for some kind of a deal, by hook or by crook, which would allow for at least some hybrid peace in this hybrid war. At the same time, the world community should know better, looking back at the past two years, that the only guarantee of a brazen “gopnik” is no guarantees… To confirm this thought, the West should have read more carefully the Budapest Memorandum and put two and two together – the sweet talk of Russian top officials and the sad reality which reflects none of their words.

*Gopnik is a pejorative term and a social slur used in Russia and other post-Soviet countries, to refer to aggressive neighborhood youngsters. The gopnik stereotype includes flagrant disrespect for the laws.

Tatiana Urbanskaya