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Ukrainian government affirms decision to unilaterally demarcate border with Russia

November 19, 2014, 17:25 UTC+3

The decision was announced by a Ukrainian cabinet minister, Ostap Semerak, after a government meeting

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© Konstantin Cherginsky/TASS

KIEV, November 19. /TASS/. The Ukrainian government affirmed the decision to unilaterally demarcate the border with Russia at a meeting on Wednesday, Ostap Semerak, a Ukrainian cabinet minister, said after a government meeting.

“The decision was adopted with certain corrections. Instructions were given to work out relevant measures,” Semerak told journalists.

He said the joint commission established to consider the issue does not work.

Earlier today, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke for the approval by the Ukrainian government of President Petro Poroshenko’s draft decree on unilateral demarcation of the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Border demarcation issue

According to Russia's Federal Agency for the Development of the State Border Facilities (Rosgranitsa), delimitation of the land border between Russia and Ukraine has been completed.

The Treaty on the State Border between Russia and Ukraine entered into force on April 23, 2004. The treaty’s supplements include a description of the positioning of the Russian-Ukrainian state border and 1:50000 scale maps with the borderline drawn. The treaty did not envision demarcation — drawing the state borderline and marking it with special border signs.

On May 17, 2010, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich signed an agreement on demarcation of the land section of the border, which took effect on July 29, 2010. The joint demarcation commission was set up as well.

Demarcation of borders is one of the conditions of a prospective switchover to the visa-free regime with European Union countries. Talks on scrapping visas with the EU are being held by both Russia and Ukraine.

On November 29-30, 2011, Russia and Ukraine signed a plan to demarcate the border. On November 7, 2012, the first border sign was unveiled on the Bryansk-Chernigov section at the junction of the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian borders.

The state border demarcation process continued throughout 2013 but was suspended due to events in Ukraine, which has been in turmoil since the end of last year, when then-President Yanukovich decided to suspend the signing of an association agreement with the EU to study the deal more thoroughly, which triggered anti-government protests that often turned violent and eventually led to a coup in February 2014.

On June 17, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s unicameral parliament, recommended the government to make a decision within a month “to suspend the operation of state border-crossing points along the land section (of the border) with Russia.

The Rada also recommended the government to “immediately approve documents required to unilaterally carry out demarcation of the land section of the border with the Russian Federation that will be developed like the external borders of the European Union.” MPs also decided to allocate funds on border development and to increase the personnel of Ukraine’s State Border Service.

Southeastern developments

According to the United Nations, more than 4,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s south-east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway territories on the border with Russia, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire at talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The ceasefire took effect the same day but has reportedly occasionally been violated.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19 in Minsk, which outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point document in particular stipulates a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

The positions of Russia and Western nations on the Ukrainian developments differ radically. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the intra-Ukrainian crisis, but the West accuses Moscow of participation in clashes in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast and has subjected Russia to sanctions.

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