Leonid Kravchuk Remembered How in the 90’s the US Threatened Ukraine with Sanctions and a Blockade

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



In the early 90’s the United States of America threatened Ukraine with a blockade if it didn’t join the Budapest memorandum of nuclear disarmament. This was stated by the first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk in an interview with “Ukrainian Pravda”.

“They didn’t just arrive – they demanded. They said: ‘If you don’t perform the task to bring warheads out of Ukraine, then not just the pressuring and blockading of Ukraine will begin’… We would be isolated. Sanctions, a blockade – this was directly said,” said Kravchuk, adding that Europe also was ready to join the sanctions.

According to the first president of Ukraine, the then US President Bill Clinton and the vice-president Al Gore headed the negotiations.

“I met both of them. They said that Ukraine must lay down its nuclear arms. Why? Because these weapons were placed on our territory by the Soviet Union,” he says.

The former President noted that there were two more reasons why America demanded nuclear disarmament from Ukraine: Kiev couldn’t replace the nuclear warheads because they were made in Russia, and since 1998 this weapon became dangerous, besides, all those missiles were aimed at the US.

According to Kravchuk, the Budapest memorandum is a useful document, but it does not specify the mechanism of implementation.

“Everything is correctly written out there. But the main thing is missing: how to apply it, how to implemented,” stressed the first president of Ukraine.

The Budapest memorandum was concluded between Ukraine, Russia, Britain, and the US in 1994. From Kiev’s side it was signed by the second president Leonid Kuchma.

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