Poroshenko calls to cut ties with CIS, withdraw from Russia friendship treaty

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Ukrainian President Poroshenko called for the country to cut all ties with the Commonwealth of Independent Nations (CIS) and partially withdraw from its 1997 friendship agreement with Russia at a security forum in Kyiv on April 12.

“Taking into account that Ukraine was never and is not now a CIS member, and taking into account a refusal of this institution to condemn the Russian aggression, I would ask for the government to prepare a proposal for the official termination of our participation in the CIS’s statutory bodies,” Poroshenko said to the forum.

The CIS is an organization of former Soviet republics, created as the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991. Its members include former Soviet republics, among them Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Though Ukraine was a signatory to the 1991 Belovezha accords that established the CIS, it did not ratify a subsequent 1993 treaty to become a member state of the CIS.

Ukraine is not the first post-Soviet nation to distance itself from the CIS. The organization has long been seen as too accommodating to Russia’s ambitions toward regional dominance—if not an outright tool of Moscow.

In 2009, Georgia effectively withdrew from the organization after it did nothing to prevent the Russo-Georgian war the previous year.

“The CIS totally failed as an international organization. It is some kind of post-Soviet kind of thing that basically could not do anything to prevent this tragedy from happening.” Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said at the time.

During his speech, Poroshenko said that all of Ukraine’s missions to the CIS would be closed. Furthermore, he said he’d submit a proposal to the Verkhovna Rada to withdraw Ukraine unilaterally from parts of the “Big Deal,” a 1997 comprehensive agreement of friendship and cooperation with Russia.

In particular, he said, Ukraine would withdraw on provisions regarding strategic partnership, military and technical cooperation and national security.

Provisions concerning the mutual respect of territorial integrity within established 1997 borders would stay, he said.

The Kyiv Security Forum is held by the Open Ukraine Fund, headed by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Ongoing annually since 2007, this year it drew over 400 international and Ukrainian leaders, businesspeople, and civil society representatives, among them the U.S.’s NATO representative.

On the table were global security trends, as well as Ukraine’s crucial role in regional and European security and democracy.