WASHINGTON: Former US president Bill Clinton has issued a shocking apology for handicapping Ukraine years before the bloody war with Russia, reported The Sun.
The former Democratic leader believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin would never have invaded Kyiv if they hadn’t given up nuclear weapons at his request.
The 42nd president voiced his regrets in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTÉ that was featured on Fox News. “I feel a personal stake because I got them [Ukraine] to agree to give up their nuclear weapons,” Clinton told the outlet.
“None of them believe that Russia would have pulled this stunt if Ukraine still had their weapons.”
Ukraine initially had access to a stash of nuclear weapons after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
However, in 1994, Clinton reached a deal with then-Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk to hand over 1,900 nuclear weapons and rely on the U.S. and the United Kingdom for support.
Russian leader Boris Yeltsin also agreed at the time to respect Ukraine’s new borders.
Unfortunately, the pact, known as the Budapest Memorandum, was violated under Putin’s rule when he annexed Crimea in 2014 and once again when he infiltrated Ukraine in February 2022.
“I knew that President Putin did not support the agreement 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.
“They were afraid to give them up because they thought that’s the only thing that protected them from an expansionist Russia.”
Clinton admitted that he felt “terrible” when Russia failed to honor its end of the deal as Ukraine initially had limited resources to fight back.
“When it became convenient to him, President Putin broke it and first took Crimea,” he said in the interview.
“And I feel terrible about it because Ukraine is a very important country.”
Nuclear warfare has been at the center of the Russia-Ukraine conflict at Ukraine’s foreign minister calls for Cold War style-threats to stop Putin.
Throughout the war in Ukraine, Putin has engaged in nuclear threats in a bid to warn the West of increasing military aid to Kyiv.
In the most direct threat, he said Russia “will use all the means at our disposal” to defend itself adding “this is not a bluff” as he announced a mass mobilization.
It’s believed that Putin could use nukes in Ukraine as a final devastating act of destruction, according to a report from think tank Chatham House.
Clinton voiced his fear for Ukraine in the interview and commended Western forces for funding the conflict that has now passed the one-year mark.
“I think what Mr. Putin did was very wrong, and I believe Europe and the United States should continue to support Ukraine,” the politician said.
“There may come a time when the Ukrainian government believes that they can think of a peace agreement they could live with, but I don’t think the rest of us should cut and run on them.”