Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree to withdraw all Ukrainian envoys from the statutory bodies of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose political and economic confederation of nine post-Soviet nations heavily dominated by Russia.
The decision was announced on Poroshenko’s Twitter page in tribute to Europe Day, celebrated in Ukraine on May 19.
“For us, the CIS is completely and entirely gone to the past,” the message on the presidential page also reads. “Our future is in Europe only!”
The CIS was formed by a group of former Soviet republics in the agonizing final days of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Its members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Though Ukraine was signatory to the 1991 Belavezha accords that established the CIS and dissolved the USSR, it did not ratify a subsequent 1993 treaty to become a member state of the CIS.
Given the sharp conflict with Russian Federation, which has been ongoing since 2014, Poroshenko initially said Ukraine would cut all ties with the organization on the sidelines of the Kyiv Security Forum on April 12. Furthermore, he said he would 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.
Nevertheless, on April 16, presidential envoy to the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Lutsenko asserted that Poroshenko’s proposal envisaged the withdrawal from all accords with CIS except for those considered “useful for Ukraine’s economy,” such as the mutual recognition of educational qualifications, or transit agreements with CIS nations.
She added that Ukraine’s withdrawal from CIS would be partial and that it would be conducted due to the organization’s reluctance to acknowledge Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Ukraine is not the first post-Soviet nation to distance itself from the CIS. The organization has long been seen as too accommodating towards Russia’s ambitions for regional dominance—if not an outright tool of Moscow.
In 2009, Georgia effectively withdrew from the organization, accusing the CIS of doing nothing to prevent the Russo-Georgian war the previous year.
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