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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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INTERNATIONAL WEEKLY № 22 (01.12.2018 – 15.12.2018)

Belated decision on the termination of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation

On 16 December, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed bill No. 0206 “On the Termination of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation”. This was stated by the Head of State on Twitter. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Verkhovna Rada, on December 6 passed the draft law “On the Termination of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation” submitted by the President. The Treaty of friendship, cooperation and partnership between Ukraine and Russia, which was implemented on May 31, 1997 in Kyiv and ratified by the Verkhovna Rada on January 14, 1998 is to expire from April 1. The bill stipulated that the termination of the Treaty is the result of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, which is a significant violation of the provisions of the Treaty. Termination of the Treaty exempts Ukraine from any obligation to abide by the Treaty and does not affect the rights, obligations or legal status of Ukraine arising from the implementation of the named Treaty before its termination, in accordance with Article 70 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of International Treaties. The document comes into force the day following the date of its publication. [1]

The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was signed on May 31, 1997. The Verkhovna Rada ratified the treaty on January 14, 1998, and the State Duma on December 25, 1998. The treaty entered into force on April 1, 1999. According to Article 40 of the Treaty, it was concluded for a period of 10 years. The treaty is automatically extended for the next 10-year periods, if neither party declares its desire to terminate it at least 6 months before the end of the 10-year period. According to the Treaty, the principle of strategic partnership, recognition of the inviolability of existing borders, respect for territorial integrity and mutual obligation not to use its territory to the detriment of each other's security."[2]

Immediately after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine started to talk about the termination of the Treaty, because of its military aggression against Ukraine, Russia had violated two key points — the non-aggression and the recognition of borders. On December 2 of the same year deputies from the party "Svoboda" submitted a bill to Parliament, however it wasn't even consideredand was sent for revision.

Russia reacted instantly – a member of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Relations with Сompatriots Robert Schlegel said that in case of termination of the Treaty with Russia, the CIS countries will introduce a visa regime for citizens of Ukraine. In January 2018, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted for the bill on the reintegration of Donbass, separately considering all amendments proposed by the deputies. Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, commenting on the preparation of documents for the termination of the Treaty, noted that Russia has “violated all the clauses of the Treaty” a long time ago. Indeed, the violation occurred before the events of 2014.The trade war against Ukraine, which Russia declared in 2013 in response to Kyiv's decision to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, violated the clause on economic cooperation and non-harm.Russia then declared that Ukraine violates agreement by signing the Association Agreement. The prohibition of direct flights between countries and the reduction of railways is also a violation of the clause of the Free Transport Agreement between the countries. As the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Olena Zerkal explained," the last straw " for Ukraine was the election of the President of the Russian Federation in March 2018 in the territory of the annexed Crimea.

But back in 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine opposed the termination of the Treaty. Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Vadim Prystayko explained that the article on the recognition of the borders and territorial integrity of Ukraine is "a hook for Russia, and we can not let it off the hook." According to Prystayko, the Treaty could be an additional argument for Ukraine in international lawsuits against Russia due to the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass.Russia's propaganda channel Russia Today, referring to sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote that the new agreement will exclude items on political friendship and economic cooperation, as well as record that the territory of Donbass and Crimea — Ukrainian. The Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov called Kyiv's desire to withdraw from the Treaty "unreasonable".He added that Russia has never advocated the deterioration of relations and was " adversary and opponent" of the actions of the Ukrainian authorities in the Donbass.[3]

Ukraine has been late for at least 4 years with the termination of this Treaty, said DeputySpeaker of the Parliament Oksana Syroyid. This should have been done in February 2014, when Russia began the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Donbass. In addition to the Treaty onfriendship, Ukraine still has dozens of bilateral treaties with the Russian Federation, that are still not denounced. For example, the Treaty on the State Border or on Cooperation in the use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. In general, in recent history during the period of independence between Ukraine and Russia about 400 different treaties and agreements were concluded. It is actually the fifth year of Russian aggression against Ukraine and our country came out of only 35 such agreements.[4] However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine continues to pretend that the Russian-Ukrainian war does not exist and allegedly Ukraine continues to be in a strategic partnership with Russia. It seems like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is in a lethargic dream confusing the entire international community, which can not understand the relationship between Ukraine and Russia: friendship and strategic partnership or war? If friendship and partnership-why all these sanctions against Russia?

In turn, Poroshenko noted that the Treaty on friendship with the Russian Federation had not been terminated earlier in order to use its provisions as a basis for numerous lawsuits of Ukraine to international courts and other international bodies in Russia – as a violator of this Treaty and norms of international law. The Head of State stressed that at the beginning of 2019 the next ten-yearterm ends, when Ukraine should officially decide whether to continue or to terminate. According to him,"the choice is obvious – to terminate." Poroshenko also added that Ukraine used all the possibilities of this document in its national interests.[5]

Thus, due to the fact that the Russian Federation violated the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, the issue of its termination in Ukraine has been raised quite many times. At present, the termination of the Treaty on friendship with Russia is really a necessary measure, which had to be applied for a long time ago in order to make things look clear. After all, all the time since the beginning of the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the situation looked like we are waging war and continue cooperation with the aggressor state. In addition, the constant postponement of this issue made it clear that the political elite in Ukraine, which has its own interests to benefit from this, had no desire to break the relations with Russia. That is why this inconsistency of Ukraine's actions was perceived ambiguously by the international community.