Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed doubts about the agreement on Ukraine’s territorial integrity as early as 2011. This was stated by former US President Bill Clinton during a public debate in New York. This, the Guardian writes, shows that the US and its European allies had the opportunity to better prepare for the invasion in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began fighting in Ukraine’s Donbass.
Clinton said he spoke with Putin at an economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2011. The subject of discussion was, among other things, the so-called Budapest Memorandum of 1994, according to which Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan renounced nuclear weapons in return for maintaining territorial integrity within ” its current borders. The agreement on Ukraine was signed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on behalf of Russia and Clinton on behalf of the United States and then British Prime Minister John Major.
“Putin told me in 2011, three years before he seized Crimea, that he didn’t agree with the deal I made with Boris Yeltsin,” Clinton said during a public debate at the Jewish Cultural and Community Center in New York. “I do not agree with it, I do not support it, and I am not bound by it,” Putin said, referring to the agreement, according to Clinton.
“I knew from that day on that it was only a matter of time,” Clinton said of the 2014 invasion and last year’s incursion, when Russia launched a massive three-pronged offensive against Ukraine.
After annexing Crimea in 2014, Putin claimed that Moscow was not bound by the Budapest Memorandum because the pro-Western revolution in Kiev’s Maidan Square and the change of government in Kiev earlier that year meant that Ukraine had become a different country, writes The Guardian. “We have not signed any binding documents in relation to this country,” the Russian president said at the time. But the conversation with Clinton suggests that Putin decided to break the agreement several years before Maidan.
In addition, according to Daniel Fried, former US Deputy Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, already in 2008 the Russian president indicated that he did not take Ukraine’s territorial integrity seriously. At a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, Putin stated that “not all legal formalities were followed” in the transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954.
“I was there,” said the diplomat, “I was sitting next to Mariusz Handzelek, Poland’s National Security Adviser at the time. We just stood dumbfounded and looked at each other and said, ‘Did you hear the same thing as me?'” .
Fried later reports this to the head of American diplomacy. “The operation in Crimea took the US government by surprise, but given the warning, it wasn’t supposed to be,” Farid said.
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