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Kiev tears up Friendship Treaty with Russia ahead of presidential election, says expert

The Treaty is set to be dissolved on April 1, 2019

KIEV, December 6. /TASS/. The decision of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) to terminate the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia was not mandatory in legal terms, indicating that the election campaign in the country is nearing, Ukrainian former economy minister Viktor Suslov told TASS.

"Legally, of course, there was no need for further consideration of the issue and the corresponding decision of the Verkhovna Rada because under the Treaty if the party notifies of its non-extension, as Ukraine did, it becomes void," the expert noted.

Suslov added that the decision of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada was rather political. "The election campaign has its own laws, which is why the Ukrainian President has decided to give the parliament an opportunity to speak further (on the issue), which will have a certain effect on the public. As far as the logic of the election campaign goes, that was the point," the ex-minister stressed.

He believes that the termination of the basic agreement with Russia will entail many problems for the bilateral treaty basis as a whole. "As has been said, it is not just the agreement that is important, but also dozens of documents associated with it. We may assume that it will lead to a large number of unresolved issues, which will still need to be settled additionally one way or another," Suslov stated, pointing out that if it is not done, we should expect the "growth of ambiguity in relations between both countries." "To me, it is critical to strive for a rather clear legislative regulation of (relations)," the expert said.

Chronicle of Poroshenko’s ‘Friendship’ break-up

On September 17, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed a decree on enforcing the decision by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council to terminate the Friendship Treaty with Russia. Later on, the Ukrainian Cabinet instructed the Foreign Ministry to notify Russia and international organizations of Kiev’s desire to end the treaty by September 27. At the same time, the government instructed Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Justice, the Economic Development Ministry and the Finance Ministry "to ensure that the Cabinet submits this bill to terminate the treaty with Russia to the president" by October 22.

On Thursday, December 6, the Verkhovna Rada upheld Poroshenko’s decision to terminate the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Russia. As such, a total of 277 lawmakers voted in favor of tearing up the Treaty surpassing the required minimum of 226 votes.

The Treaty is set to be dissolved on April 1, 2019. The document specifies that its termination "releases Ukraine from any obligations on abiding by it and affects no rights, responsibilities or legal status of the country, which emerged as a result of adhering to the treaty before its dissolution."

The Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was signed in May 1997 and entered into force in April 1999 for a period of ten years, with an automatic extension for the next decade on a no-objection basis. October 2018 was the deadline when the parties had to declare their intention to extend the treaty or terminate it.