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Ukraine’s Parliament approves bill to terminate Friendship Treaty with Russia

Petro Poroshenko before Ukrainian Parliament. (Ukrainian Government/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has approved a move by President Petro Poroshenko to terminate the country’s Treaty of Friendship with Russia.

On December 6, 277 lawmakers voted to terminate the treaty by allowing it to expire. Passage of the bill required only 226 votes.

The treaty is due to expire on March 31, 2019. Under the Ukrainian legislation, it will not be prolonged after that date.

Signed in 1997, the treaty obliges Russia and Ukraine to “respect the territorial integrity of each other and confirm inviolability of current mutual borders.”

It also says that Ukraine and Russia should build bilateral relations “based on principles of mutual respect of sovereign equality, inviolability of borders, peaceful resolution of differences, without use of force or threat to use force.”

Ukrainian government forces have been fighting against Russia-backed separatists in the eastern Ukraine since April 2014, shortly after Russia military forces seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and annexed the territory.

Although Moscow denies interfering in Ukraine’s domestic affairs, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in November 2016 ruled that the fighting in eastern Ukraine is “an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.”