One of the clauses of the Budapest Memorandum is (page 20):

The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to the Republic of Belarus, in accordance with the Principles of the CSCE Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by the Republic of Belarus of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

Or, more plainly,

[Russia, the UK and the US agree to] Refrain from using economic pressure on Belarus ... to influence their politics.

It seems arguable that by imposing sanctions on Belarus (example) the US and UK are now also in breach of the Budapest Memorandum.

Has any US or UK leader explained their sanctions on Belarus in the context of the Budapest Memorandum, in particular if they view themselves as in breach? If they do not view themselves as in breach, why not?

It looks like the US already imposed sanctions on Belarus in 2013, and provided this as an explanation:

Repeated assertions by the government of Belarus that U.S. sanctions violate the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances are unfounded. Although the Memorandum is not legally binding, we take these political commitments seriously and do not believe any U.S. sanctions, whether imposed because of human rights or non-proliferation concerns, are inconsistent with our commitments to Belarus under the Memorandum or undermine them. Rather, sanctions are aimed at securing the human rights of Belarusians and combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other illicit activities, not at gaining any advantage for the United States.

I am looking for a more recent statement on the 2022 sanctions.

  • 3
    I'd venture a guess that since Belarus' soil was used to stage some of the columns that invaded Ukraine, the accords are dead letter by now. Perhaps the fact that Belarus recently adopted a constitutional amendment allowing the deployment of (Russian) nuclear weapons on its territory adds to that. Mar 18, 2022 at 3:35
  • @Fizz are you saying that Belarus breached the Budapest Memorandum by allowing Russia soldiers & nuclear weapons to use their territory, hence the accords are "dead letter"?
    – Allure
    Mar 18, 2022 at 3:52
  • Anyhow "The problem is that the Budapest Memorandum is a political agreement rather than a legally binding treaty. It does not say countries have to take any particular action if it is violated, other than enter into talks." nbcnews.com/news/world/… Mar 18, 2022 at 4:08
  • "Or, more plainly," I don't think that that's an equivalent summary. Sanctions are being used to pressure Belarus into treating Ukraine as an equal, which is quite different from using sanctions to pressure Belarus into having a subordinate role, which is what the memorandum prohibits. Furthermore, the memorandum speaks of "the exercise by the Republic of Belarus of the rights inherent in its sovereignty", and unprovoked invasions is not a right inherent in its sovereignty. Mar 18, 2022 at 18:23
  • @Acccumulation that's the summary in the Wikipedia article though. Also as far as I'm aware, the memorandum doesn't say it becomes null and void if Belarus invades Ukraine (which AFAIK they haven't - they've just supported Russia doing it).
    – Allure
    Mar 19, 2022 at 5:55

1 Answer 1


No they haven't, insofar. Frankly, I'm not sure why you think they'd need update their previous rationale. The Belorusian MFA regularly accuses the West of breaching both the Budapest Memorandum and the CSCE (aka Helsinki) Final Act; most recently that I could find (before 2022) they did that in August 2021. (And since Canada didn't sign either of those, they also accused Canada of breaching the UN charter, on the same occasion.) I don't recall the US/UK/EU bothering to explain then again why their sanctions are not a breach.

It's also worth noting that the issue in question (in the Memorandum) has fairly similar wording in the 1975 CSCE (aka Helsinki) Final Act, which has a lot more signatories.

They will likewise in all circumstances refrain from any other act of military, or of political, economic or other coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by another participating State of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

And a number of (European) countries have been sanctioned by the West since then.

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