Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada decided to terminate the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. 277 deputies voted for this decision.
The issue of the “Great Treaty” between Ukraine and Russia has periodically been raised since the Russian annexation of Crimea.
In April 2018, President Poroshenko announced plans to submit to the Verkhovna Rada a draft law on the suspension of the operation of certain provisions of the friendship treaty with Russia. Poroshenko emphasized that the Treaty cannot be completely canceled:
“Why can't this contract be canceled, and we are just suspending the operation of certain articles? Because there are important provisions for Ukraine in which the parties, I quote, “respect the territorial integrity of each other, the parties confirm the inviolability of the existing borders between them.”
In January 2018, President's Humanitarian Envoy at the Minsk peace talks regarding the War in Donbas Iryna Gerashchenko said:
"It was very strange to just hear representatives of the opposition, who again called on breaking the state treaty of friendship with the Russian Federation. The entire State Duma of the Russian Federation now repeats it. And we must demand that the Russian Federation return to international law and implement the law, including the friendship agreement, which recognizes territorial integrity, sovereignty and respect for our borders within internationally defined borders, including Donbas and Crimea. And the opposition proposes: let Ukraine be the first to leave this Treaty, so we ourselves will give away Donbas and Crimea."
What happened next?
The end of August 2018. Poroshenko instructs the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry to prepare for the termination of the treaty on friendship and cooperation with Russia. The whole Treaty, not its separate parts.
In early September 2018, the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) supported Poroshenko’s proposal on the non-renewal of the Treaty with the Russian Federation for the next 10 years. The decree on the enactment of the decision of the National Security Council on the termination of the treaty of friendship between Ukraine and the Russian Federation came into force on September 19. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine sent a note to Russia on the non-renewal of the Treaty on September 21.
The key argument, repeated by the authorities, was not about breaking the contract, but about refusing to renew it.
“I want to make some comments and clarity from the point of view of the non-renewal of the “Great Treaty” with the Russian Federation. I emphasize that it is not broken because it is a complicated procedure. It ceases to be valid due to non-prolongation,” Poroshenko noted.
He has actually generally stated that the position of the authorities regarding the contract has not changed since it is not broken, but non-prolonged.
Iryna Gerashchenko stated that:
“Ukraine has not broken and does not terminate the contract, we will not prolong it. This is not the same. We did not give the Kremlin such a trump card, our claims to international courts are based on the evidence base that it was the Russian Federation that violated the Treaty.”
Deputy Head of the Ukrainian MFA Olena Zerkal underlined:
"Then (in April, - ed.) and now the position remains unchanged. In all the elements."
If we agree to extend the non-use of force point of the Treaty, does this mean that we agree with the non-use of force, which includes shelling of residential areas of Mariupol? If we agree to the continuation of the position on the inviolability of borders, do we agree that the Russian Federation is preventing to control hundreds of kilometers of the border? If we agree to the continuation of the provision of respecting territorial integrity, then we agree with the occupation of the Crimea.
Art. 40 of the "Great Treaty?"
This Agreement is for a period of ten years. Its action will then be automatically extended for subsequent ten-year periods if none of the High Contracting Parties declares to the other High Contracting Party that they wish to terminate it (by written notification at least six months before the end of the next ten-year period).
The first ten-year period, the starting date of which began April 1, 1999, has ended April 1, 2009. Then neither Ukraine nor Russia wanted to terminate the document, so it was automatically extended for another 10 years. Thus, it was necessary to notify Russia of the refusal to renew the contract until September 30. And Ukraine’s MFA did it.
A brief summary of the “Great Treaty”
- Both sides pledge to respect each other’s territorial integrity and borders.
- Both countries guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens of another country on the same grounds and in the same amount as their citizens, except in cases established by the law of states or international treaties.
- Economic cooperation.
- Political cooperation, including supporting each other in accession to international organizations.
- That is, the cooperation and support of each other wherever possible.
Who signed it and when?
It was signed on May 31, 1997 by President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and President of Russia Boris Yeltsin.
The Verkhovna Rada ratified the treaty on January 14, 1998, and the State Duma on December 25, 1998.
The document entered into force on April 1, 1999.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russian ultranationalist politician and leader of the LDPR party, suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin notify the Ukrainian authorities about the termination of the Treaty.
"After almost 20 years since the Treaty of Friendship entered into force, many of its articles are grossly violated by Ukraine and ignored, and some articles have lost their relevance altogether."
Russian senator Alexei Pushkov on Twitter:
"Poroshenko continues his mission as a destroyer: he announced the beginning of a breach of the 1997 treaty of friendship with Russia. Kyiv acts to its detriment: the treaty recognizes the territorial integrity and borders of Ukraine. In the event of its rupture, Russia is relieved of all obligations."
Leonid Kalashnikov, head of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian integration, and relations with compatriots:
"This treaty does not have any special meaning. No any real practical consequences. On the other hand, Russia will have no moral-political obligations to implement certain agreements."