Ukraine rips up key cooperation deals with Russia
Kiev lawmakers on Thursday annulled five crucial security agreements with Moscow that allowed Russia to transport troops to a separatist region of Moldova and purchase weapons only produced in Ukraine.
The deals were effectively suspended with the onset of the pro-Russian uprising in Ukraine’s industrial east 13 months ago that Kiev blames the Kremlin for fomenting.
But the Verkhovna Rada parliament’s decision means that legislative support from Ukraine’s dominant nationalist and pro-European parties would be required before such cooperation could resume once the separatist conflict is resolved.
It also underscores how little an east Ukrainian truce deal reached in February has done to rebuild trust between Moscow and Kiev.
“I know of no other country that continues to be friends with a neighbour that kills your people,” prominent pro-EU deputy Mustafa Nayyem wrote on Facebook.
“And only recently I learned that we still have international agreements with Russia concerning military and technological cooperation!”
The five laws include a strategic agreement allowing Moscow to send peacekeeping forces across Ukraine to Moldova’s Russian-speaking Transdniester region.
A top Ukrainian state security official told AFP that the transports’ abrupt interruption had caught Moscow off guard when they first went into effect about a year ago.
But the same official said Moscow has since found new avenues by which to supply troops to the self-declared state.
A second politically-charged agreement required both Russia and Ukraine to protect each others’ state secrets. It was initially drafted with the arrival of one-time spy Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in 2000.
Another law covered basic Russian military transports across Ukraine and a fourth concerned mutual arms purchases.
Ukraine inherited several huge Soviet-era arms manufacturing sites that formed the backbone of Russia’s armed forces.
The final law covered intelligence sharing between the two sides.
“Many Ukrainians must have learned with some surprise today that these laws were still around,” Kiev’s Razumkov Centre analyst Oleksiy Melnyk told AFP.
– Burned bridges –
Ukraine’s Western allies have encouraged parliament to spend less time on populist — and often little-more than symbolic — measures and to focus instead on the numerous laws needed to get the recession-hit economy back on track.
Rafts of nationalist legislation adopted since this chamber’s November election have only stoked the virulent anti-Ukrainian passions of Russia’s state media and senior ministers.
But some analysts said Thursday’s legislation meant that crucial links that tied Moscow and Kiev throughout the tumultuous post-Soviet era have been ruptured for many years to come.
Pro-Russian legislators that supported these laws at the expense of closer links with NATO and the European Union were trounced in the November election and at present appear a longshot at making a comeback in the 2019 Rada vote.
“The chances of Ukraine and Russia resuming the type of military and technological cooperation that they enjoyed just a few years ago appear highly unlikely in the mid-term perspective,” independent military analyst Mykhaylo Pashkov said in an interview.
“Russia’s foreign policy approach is also unlikely to change under Putin,” he added. “There is little chance that he will take a benevolent view of Ukraine in the next few years.”
Pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko has pledged to adopt all the reforms needed for Ukraine to join the European Union by 2020.