Former US President Bill Clinton has stated that he regrets convincing Ukraine to hand over its nuclear arsenal.
Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine surpassed Russia as the world’s third-largest nuclear power. However, following talks between the United States, Russia, and Ukraine in 1994, Clinton announced that Ukraine had agreed to remove nuclear weapons from its territory.
In 1994, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, United States President Bill Clinton, and British Prime Minister John Major signed the Budapest Memorandum, in which Ukraine agreed to remove all nuclear weapons from its territory in exchange for security guarantees from the signatories – the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia.
In 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 they had nuclear weapons.
“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.