End of Friendship Treaty with Russia: How will "Kremlin Bear" react?Taras Chornovil
The Verkhovna Rada passed a draft law, submitted by President Poroshenko, on non-prolongation of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Earlier in September, Kyiv sent Moscow a corresponding notice, thus, properly informing the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
What consequences will this step entail? As my senior sergeant in the army once said, "You are not kidding with a smart one." We have in an absolutely uncivilized neighbor ruled by a dictator. The dictator decides what to do: if he wants to wage war, he sends tanks and planes to the Ukrainian border; or if he wants to attack Ukrainian ships in neutral waters, he just does it. Our enemy proceeds from its own point of view, and no legal nuances here are of any significance.
What consequences will this step entail? As my senior sergeant in the army once said, "You are not kidding with a smart one"
Putin is not a civilized man. It's like talking about the rules of international law with Adolf Hitler. Some tried to talk about this with him in 1938, but they paid a very high price for that. The same is now happening with Putin.
Therefore, no one knows exactly what the consequences there will be. I think that the actual consequences will not be a result of the abolition of the Treaty, but of Putin being nervous about the fact that Ukraine is increasingly shifting away from under his influence. It is extremely annoying to him that the Ukrainian church is becoming independent – I hope this procedure will be completed in December, and then we will witness a massive transition of Orthodox parishes from the Moscow Patriarchate to a new local church. This might actually cause Putin's mental breakdown. A similar reaction we may see over the Rada amending the Constitution regarding Ukraine's aspirations toward the EU and NATO, or maybe an outcome of the presidential election in Ukraine which would not be in Putin's favor. That is, aggression could be provoked by pretty much anything.
Legal consequences always come if the deal is broken in an unlawful way. However, since we have fully complied with the procedures, there will be no legal repercussions for us. We have reached the moment where the Treaty of Friendship can be non-prolonged officially, and this is what's happening.
There will be no negative change for Ukraine after the Treaty is done with.
For example, there will be no more degrading provision which Russia keeps violating instead of following it. It is about Ukraine having to consult with Russia before joining any international associations or seeking partnerships and signing agreements. Moscow could not veto these steps, but Ukraine had to consult with them anyway. That is, if we sought to join a kind of association that Russia considered harmful or dangerous to them – like the EU or NATO – Moscow could have insisted that we not do this. Because the Treaty on Friendship spelled out that we were not entitled to join the unions that may be harmful to the other party. And Russia wasn't either, accordingly. However, when Russia created the Customs Union, they did not consult Ukraine for some reason. This didn't stop Moscow though from demanding from Ukraine to do so when it came to NATO and the EU.
There will be no negative change for Ukraine after the Treaty is done with
Now, this provision will be gone.
At the same time, the Treaty on Friendship with Russia had a positive norm stating that both parties grant citizens of the other party the same rights as their own citizens. This was supposed to mean that Ukrainian citizens in Russia could be employed without any additional permits. But Russia never followed the norm. Russia introduced separate rules, permits, and registration for workers from Ukraine anyway. That is, the only norm that was beneficial for Ukrainians was never effective. So here, Ukraine is not losing anything.
Meanwhile, everything else, stipulated by other interstate agreements, continues to be effective.
The non-prolongation of the framework agreement does not lead to the termination of other agreements adopted on its basis. There is an agreement on borders, which clearly marks Ukraine's borders, stating that Donbas is a territory of Ukraine, as well as Crimea, unconditionally. The only arguable thing is the border line in the Azov Sea. Consequently, this agreement remains valid and will not cease to exist after the Treaty of Friendship ceases to exist.
Therefore, those who claim that, once Ukraine withdraws from the Treaty on Friendship with the Russian Federation, are lying, there will be no other agreement stating that Russia recognizes Ukraine's territorial integrity
Therefore, those who claim that, once Ukraine withdraws from the Treaty on Friendship with the Russian Federation, there will be no other agreement stating that Russia recognizes Ukraine's territorial integrity, are lying. Those other agreements are still in place.
Will Russia be able to exploit in some way the lack of the Treaty on Friendship? Russia will be able to justify its actions in the eyes of its own citizens. But for the international community, where the rules of international law apply, it will not matter. Certain statements claiming that if Ukraine withdraws from the Treaty, Russia will have no obligations regarding respecting Ukraine's territorial integrity, are lies. That's because, as mentioned, there is another agreement that clearly defines Ukraine's borders. And that other agreement doesn't allow tanks or "humanitarian convoys" uncontrollably crossing Ukraine's borders.
Taras Chornovil is a Ukrainian political analyst and foreign relations expert