It doesn't seem in dispute that Russia has breached the Budapest Memorandum, which among others said that Russia will "Respect Belarusian, Kazakh and Ukrainian independence and sovereignty in the existing borders". If the memorandum was not breached in the 2014 annexation of Crimea, then surely it was breached in the current invasion of Ukraine.

Given that, has Russia explained why Ukraine should trust them in the ongoing peace negotiations? I imagine Ukrainian negotiators must have asked this question at the peace talks.

I am only interested in what Russia has said about their trustworthiness.

Edit: If Russia has not explained why they can be trusted, I would also accept an answer Ukraine's explanation of why they are apparently trusting Russia, since they have requested legal guarantees for their own security.

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    I am only interested in what Russia has said about their trustworthiness. Can one trust what a country says? I mean not just Putin, but politics in general.
    – Morisco
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 10:12
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    Note to close voters, I don't see why you're voting to close. This question is asking what Putin has said, which is answerable. It's not asking what he thinks, what he will do, or what he will say, it's asking what he has already said, which is on topic. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 19:41
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    This question has two major flaws: (1) even though Russia is not considered trustworthy by nearly anyone on earth, they consider themselves to be trustworthy, and in particular they pretend they did not breach the Budapest Memorandum - which means that Russia won't publicly discuss why it should be trusted, as they see no reason for any doubts about their sincerity; (2) Ukraine does not trust Russia. The OP makes invalid assumptions.
    – ciamej
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 2:49
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    @RogerVadim "What has Russia said" and "Is Russia correct that they can be trusted" are two different questions. We can't answer the latter (which you point out), but OP's question is only the former.
    – Flater
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 10:28
  • 4
    @RogerVadim "I am only interested in what Russia has said about their trustworthiness" does not include whether the alleged statements are believed to be true, nor what your specific definition of a trustworthiness is.
    – Flater
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 12:15

6 Answers 6


Whatever Russia says it cannot be trusted at all. Treaties with Russia that rely on Russia keeping them mean nothing because Russia constantly breaks them. The Budapest Memorandum is not the 1st and not even 10th treaty that Russia broke, and usually with impunity. The guarantee is not in what Russia promises; it's in what other nations promise.

One has to understand that the Russian government treats their own words from short-term utilitarian viewpoint: the worth of a promise or a testimony is in the immediate benefit the word would produce; the truth or the morals are irrelevant. Amazingly, it's also irrelevant that the deception is going to be discovered soon.

An example: during Crimea invasion Putin was saying that Russia does not have Russian soldiers invading the peninsula, even though they were there on his orders, albeit without insignia. When Megyn Kelly was interviewing him about the Russians in Crimea he ridiculed her for that. What Russians troops in Crimea? These are merely volunteers taking vacation from the service in Russian Army (all 20,000 of them, fully armed). Where do you get that nonsense about our government involvement? Where is your proof?

It didn't matter that everybody knew about the ongoing invasion and that within weeks Russia admitted its involvement. Being caught in a lie is not shameful; you just shrug it off and proceed with another lie.

Another example: when a passenger jet was shot down by Russians over Ukraine the 1st claim from Russia was that it was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet, and a satellite image of that was produced. That image proved to be a terribly executed photoshop, with the fighter measuring a kilometer long as compared to the terrain. The 2nd claim from Russia was "never mind; the Boeing was shot down by a missile which was not Russian-made; here's the proof". That was quickly debunked, so the 3rd claim was "never mind; the missile was Russian-made, but it belonged to the Ukrainians; here is its trace", which was also quickly debunked.

Notice the pattern here: being proved a liar is not shameful, it's just a part of the process of producing a more believable fraud. Russian government does not believe that it could be held to whatever it claimed or promised before, even just days ago.

Ukraine understands all that. Whatever Russia says about its trustworthiness would be just another worthless breeze. Russia cannot be trusted; fool me once - shame on you; fool me like 20 times - shame on me. The guarantee of a treaty with Russia cannot possibly come from Russia; it must come from other parties.

When you sign a very important contract and you don't trust the other party too much you want to include witnesses and a notary public in the process. In case of a dispute it wouldn't be your word agains the other party; it would also be the testimony of the witnesses and the notary. Moreover, sometimes you want to purchase a 3rd party insurance to protect you against the other party's breach.

Similar here: it doesn't matter what Russia says about keeping the treaty; it only matters what kind of support Ukraine could marshal from other countries if/when Russia would breach. Ukraine knew that in 1994: the Budapest Memorandum also included US and UK as the guarantors witnesses against breaches, although "it does not impose a legal obligation of military assistance on its parties". Unfortunately, both US and UK didn't act when the treaty was breached in 2014, which they could do, but were not legally obligated to do. IMHO this encouraged Putin: he assumed that US and UK wouldn't act in 2022 either. And, if Ukrainians wouldn't put such a stiff resistance, US and UK would probably shrug it off again.

So the answer to your question is "nothing". The guarantee that Russia would respect the new treaty cannot come from Russia; it must come from the other nations that are witnessing the treaty.

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    Re "the Budapest Memorandum also included US and UK as the guarantors against breaches." It would be valuable to cite relevant language from the memorandum; at first glance I only see each signatory nation guaranteeing their own behavior towards Ukraine.
    – njuffa
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 19:33
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    Nothing there seems to indicate that the US and the UK are "guarantors against breaches" by any other signatories of the memorandum. The consultation clause (clause 6) is about as non-committal as it gets. US to Russia in 2014: "Hey, we think you are in breach of the memorandum". Russia to US: "Not the way we read it". End of consultations.
    – njuffa
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 22:25
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    I'm downvoting this answer because it answers a different question to what is asked, and is exactly the kind of answer I am not interested in.
    – Allure
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 3:02
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    @Allure I think this answer can be seen as a frame challenge to this part of the question: "I would also accept an answer Ukraine's explanation of why they are apparently trusting Russia.". The frame challenge being that Ukraine are not trusting Russia (according to this answer). Or, to put it another way, Russia doesn't need to explain why it can be trusted, nor Ukraine explain why it trusts, because it is implicit to everyone that there is no trust.
    – JBentley
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 11:12
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    +1 People in the west live in a bubble. We seem to have a hard time understanding that Russia's politicians lie about everything. Before Trump it was unthinkable in the west that a politician would tell an unending string of bold-faced lies because it's generally political suicide. It still is in most democratic places outside of America. In Russia, though, the government doesn't have to answer to the people, so what they believe really doesn't matter. This is why Trump made the whole world so nervous... politicians that can lie with impunity are dangerous.
    – J...
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 13:06

It doesn't seem in dispute that Russia has breached the Budapest Memorandum

Russia probably disputes this or considers the memorandum invalid, so the statement is not quite correct. But I assume that everyone understands what is meant here - Ukraine and its allies do not trust Russia to hold its promises.

Trust in everyday life
Trust in politics does not mean the same thing as trust in everyday human life. In the everyday life trust is essentially a belief that another person will behave in a certain way due to their emotional connection to us, or their moral principles, or simply due to their character (aka "You can't trust Melanie, but you can trust Melanie to be Melanie.") Thus, the trust depends on us knowing the characteristics and attitudes of the other person, i.e., their past behavior. If they broke our trust, we do not trust them again, or trust them less, or demand that they regain our trust by showing good behavior.

Trust in politics
In politics, when dealing with state actors, there are no friends or enemies, but only interests. So trust is based on understanding the interests of the other side, how far they are prepared to go in the name of defending their interests, and what they may consider as a threat to these interests. In some cases, of course the interests of a state actor are closely related to those of one or several people at the top - however, even in dictatorships and kingdoms the people at the top are usually not free to do whatever they want (or may lose control, if they try).

One can rarely have full understanding of what really matters for the other side, what it is prepared to do in the name of protecting its interests, and how easily it can muster the necessary means. This is why one relies on small clues dropped by the other side. Exchanging such clues is referred to as confidence-building measures, and some of the more evident ones can be encoded in international agreements, peace treaties, etc.

Example: Demilitarized zone
Creating a demilitarized zone is a good way to convey non-agressive intentions to the other side. E.g., under Egypt-Israeli peace treaty Israel had returned to Egypt the Sinai peninsula, captured in a previous war. One of the conditions of the treaty stipulated that the Sinai would be demilitarized - that is limited the amount of the Egyptian forces present in the peninsula. (Demilitarization is sometimes taken literally these days, as no military at all - this is not quite the case in practice.) This way Israel could be sure that Egypt could not mount a sudden military attack or, if it did try to launch an attack, Israel would have time to detect the troops movements and prepare accordingly. When, in the wake of the Arab spring, Egypt needed to transfer additional military forces to Sinai, in order to counter disorders, it clearly communicated to Israel these intentions and the amount of the forces it needed, so that Israel would not treat it as an act of aggression and could take proportional counter-measures.

Example: Finlandization
Finland and Sweden famously didn't enter NATO, as a means of keeping their independence and following pro-western political and economic development, without provoking the USSR. The basis for this arrangement was that: on the one hand, USSR couldn't tolerate NATO presence on its border, within a few dozen kilometers from Saint-Petersbourg (then Leningrad). On the other hand, the Winter war has shown that overrunning and occupying Finland could be very costly to the USSR. So the Soviet cost-benefit balance was to leave Finland to its own devices, unless it tries to enter NATO - in which case it would probably have to be attacked, whatever the costs are. There was likely much of diplomacy involved to make clear to everyone where the red line passed for the USSR.

As nowadays Finland and Sweden ponder whether to enter NATO, it is again a matter of similar cost-benefit analysis: whether it is better to seek/have NATO protection, knowing that Russia is ready to counter it by military force at the first opportunity, or whether it is better not to provoke Russia and trust that it is too costly for Russia to fight on this flank. Of course, Russian interests are not the only factor that matters here - public opinion and anti-Russian sentiments could easily tip the scale for the government deciding one way or the other.

Ukraine-Russia negotiations
Similarly, in the Ukraine-Russia negotiations the trust will be based on whatever guarantees they can provide to each other, rather than just Putin's or Zelensky's word. E.g., concluding a separate security treaty, including the US, Russia and other neighboring countries, as Ukraine now proposes, could be such a measure: on the one hand, it would allow Ukraine to buy American weapons and host some American troops, which would guarantee its security from a new Russian attack. On the other hand, this US presence would be limited in comparison to that in NATO members, and, even if attack does take place, it would not be considered an attack against NATO with all the consequences. This way Russia might find more beneficial to leave Ukraine rest in peace, while Ukraine would know that Russia has more to lose by attacking it than by maintaining the status quo.

Russian lannguage version of the Wikipedia article on the Budapest memorandum points out that Ukraine and Russia have divergent interpretations of the memorandum and Russia does not consider to have violated it. The passage contains references to the official statements and documents in Russian, but, since these are official government documents, they probably can be found in translation. The following is Google-translated:

Russia officially denies accusations of violating the Budapest Memorandum[19] and its applicability to the situation of “domestic political origin” in Crimea[20], since Russia, when drafting the memorandum, “did not undertake to force part of Ukraine to remain in its composition against the will of the local population”, as well as accuses the United States and the EU of violating the memorandum (which supported the opposition during the Euromaidan and, in particular, threatened to impose sanctions against the Ukrainian authorities)[21], and accuses Ukraine of “long-term violation of obligations to counter the growth of aggressive nationalism and chauvinism”, respect the rights of national minorities provided for in the joint statement of 1994[19][19][22][23]. According to Russia, the common element of the Budapest Memorandum and the concept of "negative assurances" is only the obligation not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, and this obligation of Russia to Ukraine "has not been violated in any way", and other paragraphs of the document only "duplicate provisions of the Helsinki Accords" and "have nothing to do with the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons"[19]. Referring to the absence of large-scale hostilities in Crimea at the time of its annexation, Russia also rejects accusations of violating the general ban on the use of force or the threat of force against Ukraine[24].

Remark: From my personal experience, it is not uncommon that the matching Wikipedia entries in different languages are not exact translations of each other, but rather written by different people, and often contain complimentary information.

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    @convert one cannot seriously make absolute statements about this - the question is how many American/NATO troops and weapons Ukraine may have. If one believes that Russian answer is 0, then there is no point in negotiating. Again, there may be some intermediate solutions, like non-American troops or troops of a non-nuclear NATO member. Negotiation is about nuances, rather than about pushing through one's poiunt of view.
    – Morisco
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 10:27
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    I said ulikely, not imposible. The main reason for Russia to start this conflict, was to prevent any western trups, specially US ones, to be in Ukraine.
    – convert
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 10:35
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    @RogerVadim "At least, this is what we can conclude from the public statements that were made by all the sides." The Russian statement was that they are defending DPR and LPR according to Article 51 of UN charter. Their claim got dismissed by International Court of Justice, which requested Russia to suspend all military actions. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 13:59
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    @RogerVadim You made a claim about Russia's motivation of invasion (to prevent Ukraine enter NATO) which does not hold. Russia is not going to tolerate Ukraine as a state that is independent from Russia, as Vladimir Putin clearly said: "You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine." Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 14:45
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    @RogerVadim 1. "More mainstream line is that Russia wanted to prevent Ukraine entering NATO - if Ukraine had given guarantees that it wouldn't do such a thing, perhaps no war would take place. At least, this is what we can conclude from the public statements that were made by all the sides. Everything else is guessing." Who wrote this? 2. Of course defending LPR and DPR was a pretext. The motivation was put quite clearly in Putin's speech I linked - Ukrainian state was created by Russia so Russia has rights to Ukraine. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 15:07

Has Russia explained why Ukraine can trust them, given the Budapest memorandum?

Why would it do so in a way that is apparent to the public? Doing so would admit, or at least draw attention to, shortcomings in how well it respected its treaty. Whenever the question will get asked, it will deflect it somehow: "We didn't breach the treaty. Ukraine did! They were developing nuclear bombs! Honest."

Not unlike, I would add, how the USA would likely respond if challenged on its abandonment of JCPOA with Iran. Your assessment of those protestations of innocence will entirely depend on your POV.

There is no "judge awarding the damages to country X over country Y". More specifically, no one is going to enforce anything over any given country, especially not Russia with both its nukes and its UN veto.

An agreement for a ceasefire or permanent settlement will depend on how each country will see the potential risk/rewards of entering that agreement versus continuing with the fighting.

  • Russia is not very trustworthy to Ukraine. No amount of "explanations" asked for in this question will alter that.

  • Russia is unlikely to be able to sustain long term coercion of Ukraine that achieve all its own goals, without concessions. Even if it wins militarily it will likely face an insurgency.

  • Ukraine can't "knock Russia out" and its civilians are suffering horrible losses.

  • Ukraine, for all its concerns about NATO and Western assistance, has received plenty of it, unlike in 2014. Until Russia powers up massively, somehow, it likely will be much more cautious about re-invading and Ukraine can make that calculation, rather than rely on trust.

A cease fire or long term agreement will be based on hard necessity and cold calculations, not trust.

p.s. I would also add that the current government of Russia can't be trusted may be more accurate than Russia can't be trusted. Putin has been PM/President since 1997, and the Budapest agreement was signed in 1994. I.e. what's been done has been done on Putin's watch and generically painting Russia, rather than Putin, as a treaty breaker may not be all that accurate. The distinction may appear mere quibbling at this point, but it won't be forever.

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    If you consider the Russian POV, why trust any agreement with Ukraine, when Ukraine will likely be encouraged to ignore it? I'm really neutral in this conflict and the West's hypocrisy seems to make them look unreliable. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 21:27
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    Ukraine has little interest in being encouraged by the West to do its fighting and it can't beat Russia. At the slightest hint of Ukrainian wrongdoings countries like Germany will agitate to drop sanctions on Russian gas and oil. It'll probably abide by terms of what it agrees to. Russia may not trust the West but it can be assured not to get attacked by Ukraine. Well, except in Putin's persecution fantasies, assuming he believes them. I'd add that the West has probably dropped their, rather naive, idea that taking Ukraine into NATO was without downsides. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 21:37
  • @AyamGorengPedes: Russia's POV is "we have nuclear weapons, and Ukraine does not". Russia does not have a real POV w.r.t. agreements or treaties. They don't need to have one - there's neither a domestic benefit nor an international benefit.
    – MSalters
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 9:56
  • @MSalters an equally valid Russian POV is the west want to dismantle them. I study in central-eastern Europe and meet Russians and people from the ex USSR countries daily. The western pov is waved around my face everyday, thus it makes me curious to see the other side's. Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 11:57
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    @AyamGorengPedes presumably the people taking decisions on trust with regards to future negotiations are "in the know". The Russian leadership should have a clue that Ukraine is not going to attack them, even if they are concerned about NATO. One, valid, concern does not make another conspiracy theory true, especially at the leadership, rather than propaganda, model. The current "Russian POV" wrt Ukraine, once you move away from NATO membership considerations, becomes solely coercive and mendacious. Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 16:30

I may seem a bit risible, and we don't know what's going on in private exchanges, but at least on March 10, Russia publicly insisted it hasn't even attacked Ukraine.

The face-to-face meeting between Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, was largely a depressing rehearsal of two conflicting narratives [...]

The meeting was also notable for the Ukrainians starting to develop an argument that they are prepared for an alternative to Nato membership, so long as the country is given security and economic guarantees underwritten by the west and Russia.

Lavrov said these remarks “showed there were some signs that the Ukrainian President Zelenskiy is starting to understand our approach”, but it is hard to envisage what credible security guarantees Moscow could give any western government – early on at his press conference, Lavrov said “Russia has no plans to attack other countries, we have not even attacked Ukraine”.

So, basically, how can you not trust us? We haven't even attacked you. Admit it.

Also from the same conference:

“We were never going to be agreeing to a ceasefire,” he [Lavrov] said. “Ukraine knows what we want.”

If you really need more quotes from Lavrov on the memorandum, this is from slightly before the invasion (Feb 10), but then Lavrov said (among many other things):

Indeed, we said the only concrete liability under this memorandum was that neither Russia nor Great Britain nor the United States will ever use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

So Russia claims that a conventional attack doesn't violate the Budapest memorandum.


I would also accept an answer Ukraine's explanation of why they are apparently trusting Russia, since they have requested legal guarantees for their own security.

which was added to the Q 3 days after my answer above... Ukraine was not requesting those guaranteed from Russia alone. It was requesting that other countries provide them. (And in fact Turkey was seemingly will to provide such, back then when that was in the news.)

Eager to end Russia’s invasion, which has killed untold thousands of soldiers and civilians and spurred a humanitarian catastrophe, Ukrainian officials said this week [last week of March] during talks in Istanbul that their country was ready to declare itself permanently neutral, forsaking its hopes of joining NATO and meeting a key demand of Moscow. Ukrainian negotiators also said they were willing to discuss Russian territorial claims — but only on the condition of security guarantees from a group of other nations.

Ukrainian officials envision an arrangement in which a diverse group of countries — potentially including NATO members like the United States, Britain, Turkey, France and Germany — would commit, if Ukraine were attacked, to defending it. To some security analysts, however, that sounds very much like NATO’s doctrine of collective defense by another name.

On Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said the country could, in principle, help guarantee Ukraine’s security. Other countries could potentially follow. [...]

The senior Ukrainian negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, told the Turkish broadcaster NTV on Thursday that security guarantees could help end the war. He said so-called guarantor countries would have legal obligations under international law to provide weapons, military personnel or financial help if conflict involving Ukraine erupted. He said preliminary talks were already underway with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Turkey, and asserted that those countries had shown willingness to accept the terms. [...]

But such an arrangement would face many hurdles, not least of which is the reluctance of Western powers to become ensnared in armed conflict with Russia. [...] Above all, the prospect of outside countries committing to Ukraine’s defense echoes one of the main concerns that Russia invoked before invading Ukraine. The Kremlin has fumed over the idea of Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic, joining NATO. [...]

Ian Bond, a former British diplomat in Russia and the head of foreign policy for the Center for European Reform, said that the problem with Ukraine’s notion of neutrality is that so far none of the countries it wants to guarantee it would agree to do so. It would be like NATO membership with collective defense by another name — so highly unlikely, he said.

As discussed in an analysis here that (Ukrainian) notion of neutrality guaranteed by several countries/powers was apparently based on the treaty/status that Belgium had before WW1. The difference being however that there were no nuclear weapons then (so the great powers weren't skittish to fight each other directly on the battlefield, which actually happened before WW1 during the congress system, precisely over Crimea in the 1850s), and the "Concert of Europe" was more or less conceived to prevent permanent blocs, which worked for a while, but it rather failed around WW1. The Belgian neutrality proved to be just a "scrap of paper", once one of the (former) guarantors decided that and invaded Belgium, but that was part of WW1.

Much water has flown down the Dnepr since March. As Russian troops no longer (nearly) surround Kyiv, Ukraine seems less willing to declare itself "permanently neutral". Instead Zelensky now speaks of ending the war by getting back Crimea.

"This Russian war...began with Crimea and must end with Crimea - with its liberation," he said.

(Whether that looks anything like a hostilities ender from the Russian perspective, is quite another matter.)

By the way, Ukraine had abandoned the claim to neutrality (or more precisiely the claim to "non-bloc" status) in 2014... precisely because they said they couldn't trust Russia anymore.

A note explaining the changes in Ukraine's law on domestic and foreign policy said that the "non-bloc" status codified under then-President Viktor Yanukovych in 2010 had left Ukraine vulnerable to "external aggression and pressure."

It said that "the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine, its illegal annexation of Crimea...its military intervention in eastern regions" and other forms of pressure created the need for "more effective guarantees of independence, sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity."

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    By the way, Western diplomats have said this week that Russia is only pretending to be negotiating. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 23:16
  • 1
    @Allure, is this the answer you're looking for? It's a quote from Russia about why they assumed trustworthiness is still understood and that there is no necessity to say anything about it.
    – justhalf
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 8:41
  • @justhalf not really. The quotes don't say "trust us", and don't mention the Budapest memorandum either.
    – Allure
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 15:45
  • 1
    @Allure Ah, ok. So your real question is really about the cold fact whether Russia has, at some point, uttered the phrase "you can trust us [because ...]". I understand. It's a valid question, too, I think. Just want to comment that you get all these answers because people in general don't care whether Russia has ever uttered that. Hopefully you will get your answer soon! This seems like a good question for skeptics SE, if only there is someone famous claiming "Russia has asked Ukraine to trust them" so you can ask this question there. Skeptics SE likes cold facts more than here, I think
    – justhalf
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 15:57
  • @Allure: Roger Vadim has explained at length how Russia might argue it hasn't broken the memorandum. If they claim they haven't attacked (which this Lavrov quote does), how can they admit to have broken the memorandum?! Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 17:45

In these talks, neither side trusts the other one and both sides hope to use the delay to their benefit. The talks are not expected to produce results.

Ukraine hopes to regroup and get more foreign help while Russia hopes to gain more ground and also display that it can still be reasoned with.

Wars end when both sides are exhausted and it does not look like, unfortunately, that either of them is.

So no side trusts the other: because of the memorandum and because of the failure of the Minsk agreements implementation.

  • 14
    That is what the Russian side has said? Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 6:58
  • 6
    While this is certainly one possible interpretation, it is entirely speculative at this time. Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 10:01
  • 17
    There is no symmetry here. If Ukraine breaks the treaty it risks another invasion, and this time without international support because it broke the treaty. If Russia breaks the treaty it doesn't risk as much. Also Russia has an extensive history of breaking all kinds of international treaties, as well as shameless fraud and lies spread both internally and externally.
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 17:04
  • 2
    Well the Ukraine completely botched the Minsk agreements and the imminent Russian invasion did not deter it. Thus there is a worry on Russian part that Ukraine will ignore any obligations it took during peace talks, and Russia will have to either eat it up or, as you have said, invade again, which is not in any sense free for Russia.
    – alamar
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 18:07
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    Wars end when one side is exhausted. ftfy. ;)
    – J...
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 1:18

It looks like, at least for now, the question of mutual trust or possible external insurance of the agreement between Russia and Ukraine is not on the table because there is no potential agreement in sight. Ukraine firmly stands by its decision to fight for its territorial integrity, and Russia is not (yet?) ready to admit that it's losing the war it has started. Giving up on DNR / LNR (and perhaps even giving Crimea back to Ukraine) will be a certain sign that the war is lost, no matter how you present it on TV.

Essentially, Russia participates in peace talks because refusing to do so will look bad, while sabotaging any actual cease fire agreement is very easy. And if the other side won't trust you, making sure negotiations don't bear fruit only gets easier.

Ultimately, wars stop because one of the sides is exhausted and ready to agree to the terms the winning side imposes on it; and the war losses which require many years to recover from are the best insurance of peace treaties. If one of the sides is ready to fight again and unhappy with the treaty is has previously signed, it's only a matter of time before a casus belli is found.

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