Volker: Ukraine's withdrawal from Friendship Treaty with Russia is justified

Ukraine’s decision not to renew the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty with Russia is justified, said US State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker during the 15th annual YES Summit organized by the Pinchuk Foundation.

“Russia invaded Ukraine. The reality is that this treaty means nothing,” Volker said.

When asked about the negotiation process on the Donbas, Volker confirmed that Russia’s position has not changed. Russia insists that the peacekeeping contingent should only protect the OSCE observers, that Kyiv should hold negotiations directly with the leaders of the self-declared institutions, and that Kyiv must take “political steps” to recognize their special status and elections in this occupied territory.

“The only place where Russian speakers’ rights are impinged on is wherever Russia has come. If Russia really wants to assist Russian speakers, it should withdraw its forces from there,” Volker added.

In April, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Ukraine would partially revoke its friendship treaty with Russia, and would no longer consider Russia a strategic partner.

Poroshenko instructed a working group of the Foreign Ministry to prepare documents relating to the non-extension of the Russian-Ukrainian Friendship Treaty.

The Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was signed on May 31, 1997, for a period of 10 years, with automatic extension for subsequent decades, provided neither party objects. The treaty establishes the principles of strategic partnership, recognition of the inviolability of existing borders, respect for territorial integrity, and the mutual obligation not to use one’s territory to harm the security of the other.

The first 10-year period began on the date the treaty came into force, April 1 1999, and ended on April 1, 2009. Since neither party wished to terminate the agreement at the time, it was automatically extended for another 10 years. According to article 40 of the treaty, if one party wishes to terminate the treaty, it must inform the other party in writing at least six months before the end of the current 10-year period.

  Ukraine, Russia, Friendship and Cooperation Treaty, Volker, USA, Donbas