MOSCOW, March 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s possible withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is an anti-Russian action of propagandistic nature, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in State Duma at a session convened over the ratification of the Treaty on reunification of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with Russia on Thursday.
“Certainly, we do not keep anyone in the CIS by force. However, this is undertaken not in vital interests of Ukrainian people, but to conduct one more anti-Russian action of propagandistic nature. I have no doubts over it,” Lavrov said.
Ukraine has announced that it discontinues its presidency of the CIS, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgen Perebiynis said Wednesday. The country would also consider the expediency of its further membership in the CIS, the Foreign Ministry said.
The move came after the Republic of Crimea, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16, in which some 97 percent of its population voted for secession from Ukraine and joining Russia, and subsequently signed a treaty with Moscow on Crimea's accession to the Russian Federation as a constituent member on Tuesday.
The developments took place amid political turmoil in Ukraine, where violent anti-government protests resulted in a coup and President Viktor Yanukovych had to leave the country citing security concerns in February. Russia’s position is that Yanukovych remains Ukraine’s only legitimate leader at the moment.
“When Ukraine was signing the Treaty on the establishment of the CIS, it did not sign or ratify its Charter,” Lavrov said. “It was said that (Ukraine) does not recognize the international legal capacity of the CIS, but Ukrainians were never subject to discrimination.”
The Russian foreign minister recalled the precedent of Georgia that withdrew from the CIS partially and will participate in those Commonwealth agreements that it deems beneficial.
“The CIS has a number of agreements, including one on the free trade zone, which, by the way, was signed on Ukraine’s insistence,” he said.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Perebiynis told journalists on Thursday that his country will be able to quit the CIS a year after it officially notifies the CIS Executive Committee.
He said that “once the decision to quit the CIS is made, a relevant notification will be sent to the CIS Executive Committee, and, in line with the CIS foundation treaty, the termination of participation in the organization will take place a year after the notification of the Executive Committee.”
At the same time, Perebiynis said, Ukraine would like to keep building its partner-like relations with all countries, including CIS member states.
Ukraine’s plenipotentiary representative in CIS bodies Ivan Bunechko resigned as chairman of the Council of the CIS plenipotentiary representatives on Thursday, an Itar-Tass correspondent in the Belarusian capital Minsk reported.
The note handed to the CIS Executive Committee in Minsk says “the Ukrainian side deeply regrets that the CIS, instead of implementing its tasks to organize cooperation and settle conflict situations on the post-Soviet space, turned into a tool to exercise the interests of its separate members.”
CIS Executive Committee chairman Sergey Lebedev explained that the presidency of the Commonwealth should in line with a relevant procedure go over to CIS co-chairs Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said after Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei met with Lebedev that Belarus will consider the CIS Executive Committee’s proposal to chair the CIS this year.