Expert Dialogue: Ukrainian-Hungarian Relations. Webinar 1

The International Centre for Policy Studies, with the support of the International Visegrad Fund launches the project “Ukraine and V4 countries: promoting better understanding”. ICPS experts together with partner organizations such as the Institute of International Relations and Trade (Hungary), the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (Slovakia) and the Bronislaw Gemerek Foundation (Poland) discussed the issues of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations within the framework of the first webinar. Since 2017, relations between the two countries are in constant aggravation. The trigger for the conflict with Hungary was the adoption of the Law of Ukraine on Education which linguistic article caused a sharp critique of the Hungarian government and subsequently led to the blockade by the official Budapest of a number of initiatives in the Ukraine-NATO relations. Recently, the situation has escalated after the scandal with “Hungarian passports” for residents of Transcarpathia and mutual diplomatic threats between the official Kyiv and Budapest. During the ICPS-initiated online webinar, the experts discussed the causes of misunderstandings between Ukraine and Hungary, the existing differences in the policy of good neighborliness, and also highlighted the possible scenarios for the development of relations between Ukraine and Hungary in the future. Currently, Ukraine's relations with western neighbors are characterized by two important factors - asymmetry and hierarchy. The asymmetrical nature of relations is determined primarily by the fact that the role of the western neighboring countries for Ukraine is much more important than the role of Ukraine for them. And as a result, the price paid by Ukraine for deteriorating relations with its neighbors is much higher than the one that potentially will have to pay to neighboring countries for the crisis in its relations with Ukraine. The hierarchy factor is related to the place and role of the "Ukrainian question" in the internal or foreign policy agenda of the western neighbors. For any of the neighboring countries, Ukrainian problems do not have priority, and soon become an additional component of other more important issues. Meanwhile, the region of the Eastern Europe was captured by regional processes associated with the growth of the nationalism influence. The chain reaction of constructing national identities leads to mutual hostility, historical and linguistic controversy, the struggle for the loyalty of national minorities and other similar processes. As a result, the potential for regional cooperation between countries is decreasing, and the contradictions are only rising. Taking into account the possible undesirable consequences of existing trends, the main purpose of conducting expert discussions with ICPS is to seek common, effective mechanisms for the normalization of relations and good-neighborliness between Ukraine and the member-states of the Visegrad Group. First of all, experts recommend the following steps to be taken towards the implementation of the Neighborhood Policy and the improvement of the relations between Ukraine and Hungary: creating a wider regional context and understanding that the above countries are part of one region, cooperation that could expand opportunities for both countries; an open and honest dialogue on the interests of the different positions of the countries on a given issue; refraining from anti-Ukrainian or anti-Hungarian rhetoric in the internal discourses of both countries; search for opportunities for joint projects in the field of energy, regional security, ecology, combating transnational threats. Execution of such top-priority recommendations will help to reduce the number of crises occurring between Ukraine and Hungary, witnessed by which society continues to be in its second year in a row. The International Center for Policy Studies thoroughly deals with the topic of Ukraine's relations with its European neighbors, with relevant developments available at the following links: What is happening in Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors Ukraine and its neighbors: analysis of regional trends The project also plans expert discussions on relations with other countries of the Visegrad Four. Launching a dialogue at an expert level will foster the development of constructive ideas and solutions and minimize possible challenges for regional cooperation. Project materials: Presentation  ...

ICPS Press

ICPS macroeconomic forecast: positive and negative trends in the Ukrainian economy

The International Centre for Policy Studies has prepared another analytical publication “Economic Analysis and Trends” for August 2018. It contains a detailed analysis of indicators of the manufacturing sector, prices, financial markets and the forecast for 2018-2020 on the development of the Ukrainian economy. According to the analytical paper, the second quarter of 2018 was characterized by the following trends: Growth of GDP accelerated to 3.6%. There were higher rates of growth in agriculture (due to early harvesting), energy sector and passenger transport. In July, after two months of zero inflation, deflation occurred. Annual inflation further slowed down to 8.9%. In July, the rapid growth of the hryvnia balance of loans of the population restored. Residues on household hryvnia deposits decreased. The forecast part states that the second half of 2018 will be characterized by the following trends: Negative Decrease in private consumption growth. A moderate devaluation of the hryvnia will occur. The price of gas for the population will rise significantly. Growth in industries, in particular retail and passenger transportation, will be lower. Positive Acceleration in agriculture should occur due to the high expected yield of late crops. The dynamics in the food industry will be improved. The level of inflation will not be much higher than the upper limit of the target corridor (8%), despite the devaluation and the expected increase in gas prices for the population.   The document is available in Ukrainian as well as in English. Please contact us for more information, ordering, previewing the release, and getting acquainted with the terms of subscription: e-mail: tel. (044) 253-22-29, (068) 831-94-69  ...

ICPS Press

Battle for State Bureau of Investigations

The creation of the State Bureau of Investigations - a new law enforcement body with colossal powers - continues to accompany with permanent scandals from the selection of the Head of Bureau and his deputies and to the refusal of the Director of SBI Roman Truba to external competitive commission in appointing 27 people to leadership positions in the department. This battle will be strengthened in the context of the elections which create reasonable suspicions about political game between the Presidential Administration and various groups of the People`s Front for the control of the Bureau. Only the intensification of international attention and civil society can help to create at least to a certain extent a transparent law-enforcement institution controlled by the society. A new turn of run-in The cornerstone of the new wave of confrontation was the refusal of the Director of SBI Roman Truba to competition commission to consider the issue of appointing 27 people to the leading positions of the department. Truba`s argument was based on the fact that a number of candidates appear in journalistic investigations and criminal proceedings, in particular regarding state betrayal, and legalization of funds obtained by criminal means. Also, the Director of SBI has accused the foreign competition committee of unlawful destruction of the polygraph results which could give him the opportunity to assess moral, professional and personal qualities of candidates recommended by the commission and sign an order for their appointment. With that in mind, Roman Truba returned all the submissions to competition commission, before having obtained an examination of the legality of his actions by the Institute of Legislation of Parliament and Academy of Legal Sciences which, by analyzing the legislation, confirmed the legality of his actions. Instead the competition commission has already decided at the next meeting regarding reapplying of appeal to Truba for the appointment of 27 candidates for leadership positions in  SBI and also appeal to the specialized parliamentary committee with a request to analyze the legality of actions both the commission and the Director of SBI in this situation.  It is interesting that even before the decision of the competition commission on the recommendation of 27 people to the leadership positions of the SBI the list of “favorites of authorities” was published in media and the lion's share of them was in the final list. Most of them journalists and experts called the protege of the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov and the Deputy Head of the National Police of Ukraine Igor Kupranz. This situation caused a negative reaction in surroundings of the anti-corruption public organizations and the Council of Public Control in SBI. Thus, the anti-corruption activists welcomed Truba`s decision on the rejection of these candidates, calling it a strong step, which gives a chance for the likely independence of SBI from authorities. At the same time, the First Deputy Director of SBI Olga Varchenko stated that the actions of the Head of Bureau are illegal because SBI is a collegiate body and decisions should accordingly be taken jointly by director and deputies. She noted that there were no complaints at all up to half of the applicants and they had to be appointed. In addition, according to the law, the commission has no right to transfer the personal data of candidates to anybody and the polygraph data in general is not a ground for refusal to appoint a candidate. That is, the polygraph was only a formal reason not to appoint candidates elected by the commission, but the main motive should be sought somewhere else. Submerged part of the iceberg In order to understand the current situation, it is worth mentioning some important points, about which we wrote in previous releases of IU. First, the election process of the Director of SBI, his First Deputy and Deputy lasted for 1.5 years. The competition commission was created according to the principle: three persons from the president, the government and the parliament. In fact, the commission includes only representatives of the political forces – 5 from the “BPP” and 4 from the “People`s Front”. Secondly, the establishment and election procedure of the SBI leadership indicates the existence of a planned scheme for the provision of external management of this body by appointing a weak leader – representative of one political force (according to media it is “People`s Front”) and the first deputy and deputy of another – “BPP”. At last, “BPP” and “People`s Front” reached an agreement concerning the position of Director on which Roman Truba was appointed according to the recommendations of the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov. Olga Varchenko (First Deputy) and Oleksandr Buryak (Deputy), who were previously working at the Kyiv Prosecutor's Office, were elected as Truba`s deputies. Moreover, the long time the establishment of SBI was the question hung in the air and the movement with the appointment of leadership of this body took place after the activation of work of new anti-corruption authorities, because the Bureau can be a good tool to fight against “too self-contained” NACB, having the right to investigate crimes committed by the leadership of both this body and the SAPO. So the current situation became a continuation of the battle of Presidential Administration and various groups of the “People's Front” for the influence on SBI. It seems that in the outlined conflict Truba defends the interests of the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov and the MP from “People`s Front” Serhiy Pashynskyi whose proteges were rejected during the competitive selection phase, instead the candidates agreed with Presidential Administration and Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov have prevailed. The result of such a situation will certainly be the delaying of the start of work of SBI, which has been postponed from September to October. In general, this situation plays into the hands of the heads of the GPO and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who before the creation of the Bureau retain significant powers in their hands. It is not excluded that the authorities generally decided to block the procedure for starting the work of SBI, because today it has already been possible to find a common ground with the heads of NACB and SAPO. The evidence of this is the “secret” meeting between Artem Sytnyk and President Petro Poroshenko, support from Arsen Avakov and “People`s Front” to the head of SAPO Nazar Holodnytskyi, in particular, during the consideration of his case in the Qualification-Disciplinary Commission of Prosecutors. Although Truba himtself is optimistic and plans to launch SBI in October. For this he decided to appoint, by his order, deputies of territorial units and acting heads of units of the central apparatus, who, according to him, will help to launch the work of the Bureau. The Internal Competition Commission №2 defined 14 winners of the competition for the positions of deputy directors of the territorial departments of SBI. As of September 5, Truba appointed five deputy directors of the territorial departments of SBI. But this is not enough to start the work, because the order to recruit 150 investigators has not been signed yet, and in fact, there is no one to investigate crimes. In addition, the sole appointment of deputies and acting heads of the central apparatus by Truba is questionable from the point of view of the law, which stipulates that such actions must be carried out jointly with his deputies. Roman Truba hopes that in September the Verkhovna Rada will consider a bill that partially solves the issue of appointing candidates for leadership positions and participation of the Director of SBI in this. But given the current political scenarios and the collision of the interests of the main parliamentary players in gaining control over SBI, this bill has practically no chance for adoption, as well as inclusion in the agenda. Thus, it is expected the continuation of the bidding between the main political players, the result of which will determine the future launch of SBI. There is likely to be a political consensus about maximizing delay of the work of this body. The international community and civil society should be more actively involved in the monitoring of the situation with the formation of the “Ukrainian FBI”, since the transformation of this body into another institution of political competition can obliterate all previous achievements, both in reforming law enforcement bodies and fight against corruption.    ...

ICPS Press

Ukrainian migration: what our neighbors should expect?

Emigration has become one of the main tendencies and problems of Ukraine in recent times. This phenomenon has become a consequence of domestic difficulties in the country and a lack of faith in the improvement of economic prospects. In addition, Ukrainian migrants are also affecting the neighboring countries, which may lead to asymmetries in their labor markets and to other negative consequences. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the scale of migration of the Ukrainian workforce and the prospects for such a process, both for Ukraine and for the "hosting" countries. Situation analysis According to the latest information from the Ukrainian State Statistics Service, the number of migrant workers reached 1.303 million in 2015-2017. The share of labor migrants in the total population amount is 4.5%. Compared to the years 2010-2012, this indicator has increased by almost 10%. The main countries that "import" our labor force are Poland (38.9%), the Russian Federation (26.3%), Italy (11.3%), the Czech Republic (9.4%). In general, personnel with vocational education (33.9%) and complete secondary education (30.1%) are leaving Ukraine. Only 16.4% of migrants have complete higher education. 26.8% of the total amount of migrants worked according to the qualification; 29.5% worked in other field than the obtained qualification; 36.1% worked at a job that did not require qualification. It is seen that the percentage of low-skilled labor is rather high: the countries "filled" the niche of low-skilled labor with Ukrainian personnel: 41.6% of migrants are employed in the simplest professions. The percentage of employment in other professions is rather low (exception: skilled workers with tools - 25,9%). It should be noted that the Ukrainian State Statistics Service provides data based on a sample survey of the population (households) on labor migration and figures may differ from the actual ones. What are we facing? The increase of labor migration will have the following consequences: For Ukraine For hosting countries Negative consequences: Negative consequences: • labor market asymmetries, a change in the balance of highly skilled and low skilled personnel • "rising price" for the domestic labor market • importing the labor resources from abroad • additional expenses of the country for the education of new specialists • "aging" of the nation • lower production rates in the country • increased competition with the local population • higher probability of rising unemployment • conflicts, cross-cultural misunderstandings may appear • increased risks of illegal migration • local labor force begins to seek for job opportunities in other countries, asymmetries of the market arise Positive consequences: Positive consequences: • increase of money transfers from labor migrants • reduction of unemployment in the domestic market • part of the workforce returns with new knowledge and experience • the inflow of migrants fills unclaimed jobs • migrants do not need to be educated • "imported" labor force accelerates economic development • foreign workers reduce the average market wages • migrants stimulate consumer demand Under conditions of insufficient growth of production and the existence of unemployment, emigration does not create significant threats. Accordingly, the current shortage of personnel in Ukraine due to emigration is still subcritical: • Labor market is “overcrowded” due to insufficient growth of the Ukrainian economy (correspondingly, due to small supply of jobs). • A significant number of migrants are residents of the eastern regions, in particular from the territories of the ATO, to whom the Ukrainian market and state can not provide the necessary employment. • The share of emigrants who have left Ukraine permanently is covered by immigrants. In particular, according to the State Migration Service of Ukraine, 264,732 immigrants are registered by the end of 2017. • Despite the fact that the scale of migration is quite large (even according to the official data), it should be noted that it has a seasonal nature. The share of labor emigrants in the total population is less than 5%. According to the Ukrainian State Statistics Service, the share of migrant workers returning to Ukraine is 43.2%, the share of short-term migrant workers is 48.5% and emigrant workers is 8.3%. At the same time, although money transfers of migrants only partially cover the losses of our economy due to the outflow of labor force, in the current situation, the transfers of migrants even exceed foreign direct investments in dollar equivalent. According to the NBU, the volume of money transfers to Ukraine decreased by 4.4% in 2017, however it still amounted up to almost $2.378 billion. On the other hand, though basically low-skilled labor force leaves Ukraine seasonally, there is also a sufficient share of highly skilled emigrants. This situation worsens the asymmetry of the Ukrainian labor market and is really critical. Accordingly, the current threat to the Ukrainian economy is the outflow of highly skilled employees. In addition, continuation of the process of other kind of personnel leaving will also affect the country's economic security in long term. Even today, there is a shortage of employees in the sectors of Ukraine that are dynamically developing (where the largest number of vacancies is open and where it cannot be filled by appropriate personnel for a long time). Nowadays, Ukraine needs technicians, directors, managers, skilled workers with tool, personnel for equipment and machinery maintenance, operation and control. The largest number of opened vacancies is in the spheres of sales and trade, service, labor specialties and manufacturing. In turn, the outflow of younger generation, the aging of the nation, and the decrease in the number of economically active population (by almost 6%) are weakening the preconditions (resources) for the future rapid economic growth. At the same time, the Ukrainian economy needs to grow more dynamically, taking into account the chosen course of rapprochement with the EU countries. However, the economic gap is only increasing annually. Thus, it is difficult to break the vicious circle of "migration and the lack of economic prospects" and it will be even more difficult to do it in the future. Is there a way out? According to the Ukrainian State Statistics Service, about 40% of employees receive a minimum wage or near to it today (the minimum wage is formally received by 10% of full-time employees). In confirmation, about 46.2% of the total number of households in the country received subsidies for reimbursement of expenses for housing and communal services in 2017 - this is 10.3% more than in 2016. Accordingly, this is a characteristics of the employment situation in Ukraine. This is facilitated both by the personal qualities of individuals, that influence professional achievements, and the established "traditions" among the employers: non-fulfillment / absence of the norms of social corporate responsibility, the desire to save, underpay, earn quickly and the small share of the employee salary in the price of goods / services. Thus, besides basic, it becomes impossible to meet the other needs. Taking the above stated into account, higher wages, especially in the neighboring countries, stimulate the migration of Ukrainian labor resources. Moreover, foreign companies and countries are interested in attracting the external, especially highly skilled, personnel, because they do not spend money on their education. Meanwhile, there will be no major changes in the labor market and migration processes: all the tendencies will remain the same. The rates of personnel outflow from Ukraine will depend on economic (mainly on wages and purchasing power of hryvnia) and non-economic factors (social, cultural, security factors, etc.). The financial conditions of citizens, their needs, the policy of neighboring countries regarding the employment, etc. will be determinative. In other words, in Ukrainian realities, only economic stimulus is capable of keeping personnel on its territory. According to the NBU's commentary, labor migration will grow several years before wages rise to the required level. At the same time, it should be noted that the growth of nominal wages in Ukraine is significantly overtaking the real: its required level will be difficult to achieve in the near future. Given the growing number of Ukrainian migrants and the possibility of increasing the negative consequences not only for Ukraine but also for hosting countries, we should pay attention to the following: • The idea of ​​signing bilateral agreements on labor and migrants has a great potential, taking into account the diversification of opportunities and experience. In addition, it is likely to reduce the number of "uncontrolled" migration and, thus, countries will be "ready" for changes in the labor market and labor flows. • Under today's conditions, taking into account the main directions of Ukrainian budget expenditures, the labor market and its support remain without attention. Therefore, a clear strategy of the state is necessary, including the stimulation and support of economically active population, the creation of targeted programs for country development, business development, provision of specialists and education of the necessary personnel. • Focusing on products with greater added value, further ensuring economic growth and stimulating wage growth in line with economic growth, increasing the share of labor in product prices, further implementation of corporate social responsibility practices, providing white wages, social welfare packages, re-training, etc. In long term, stabilization of the situation and crisis-free development will allow young professionals and labor resources to feel confident in their country and its support that will slow down the outflow of personnel from Ukraine and prevent negative consequences for the neighboring countries. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no effective strategy and cooperation on labor migration. Instead, only the talks are being heard from the Ukrainian side and active preparations for the elections are taking place....

Yehor Kyian

The “Big” Ukrainian-Russian Treaty: Time to Terminate?

Ukraine is about to terminate the epochal Treaty with Russia, singed more than two decades ago, by activating the clause of its Article 40. Sending a notification of non-prolongation six months before the end of another ten-year period would bring the Treaty to an end – and that’s the plan of the Ukrainian President. From our perspective such a move would weaken Ukraine’s international position, including vis-à-vis Russia. The Treaty has been a legal instrument for holding off Russia: despite the fact that Moscow violated the Treaty by annexing Crimea, further escalation was made more risky and expensive because the Treaty has been valid. Moreover, this fundamental document has been referred to in numerous legal processes Ukraine has been running against Russia internationally. Last but not least – the Treaty has been an instrument for Ukraine to induce its weaknesses in a confrontation with a much superior rival. In asymmetric conflicts weak parties need binding norms and agreements, even if they are violated; while stronger parties want to get rid of them. A move by Ukraine to terminate the Treaty may in the end play with Russia’s hand. Introduction There are 41 articles in the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The word “cooperation” is used most often, 35 times. In 1997 it has been definitely a treaty about cooperation virtually in everything. Those days are gone. The Parties to the Treaty are rather fighting than cooperating. Russia has annexed Crimea and supported separatists in Donbas. Hostilities with varying degrees of intensity are under way in economic, trade, energy, information, and a number of other areas. But the Treaty has still been in force. According to Article 40, the Treaty is supposed to continue automatically every ten years, unless one of the Parties notifies the other of its intention to terminate no later than six months beforehand. Deadline for Ukraine is the last day of September. At a recent meeting with ambassadors President Poroshenko demanded the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare documents to notify the Russian party, that Ukraine would opt to halt the Treaty. This would be a simple legal step with possible huge political consequences. For several times the issue of possible termination of the Treaty has been heavily debated in Ukraine. Pros and cons are rather well known by now. But the moment is different today: now a decision has to be taken, be it continuation or termination. There’s no room for further uncertainty. Moreover, presidential elections are just several months ahead. That adds specific flavor to any foreign policy moves, especially when it comes to dealing with Russia. Ukraine doesn’t seem to have a long-term Russian strategy, but politicians do have their election strategies at hand. The stance of the future of the Treaty, which has already become a symbol of hybridism of bilateral relations, may be a powerful asset in election wars of 2019. Political speculations aside, the Treaty is a part of a broader fundamental problem: finding the best way to deal with Russia. This is not an easy problem at all. Strategic asymmetry, high level of interdependence, and lack of trust are key features to keep in mind while shaping the future of bilateral agreements. What’s So Big about the “Big” Treaty? In 1997 the world has been different from what it is today. It is even more so when comes to the Eastern Europe and regional security arrangements. Twenty years ago it seemed like former Soviet republics, although going through a difficult transformation period and occasionally suffering internal conflicts, would however manage to maintain international peace. The agenda of regional security has not been yet dominated by Russia’s intentions to regain dominance over post-Soviet space. Even Russia’s relations with the West have not yet been damaged – that would happen shortly after. Bilaterally Ukraine and Russia were mostly concerned about division of the Black Sea Fleet and the status of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukrainian Sevastopol. An agreement was needed to resolve most urgent issues and set the framework for further – as it was believed – friendship, cooperation, and partnership. Twenty years ago Russia’s share in Ukraine’s foreign trade was about 38.5%[1], comparing to current 25%[2]. The two countries were united by economic ties, joint ventures, transit capacities, and social interactions. The potential for further cooperation seemed huge, and the Treaty was set to enhance it. The Treaty is mostly about cooperation – from military to educational issues. It covers important problems of citizenship, language, economic cooperation, which were equally important in 1997 and after. But what is more important, it sets a mechanism for settling disputes, establishes regular meetings of minister of foreign affairs, joint commissions and other tools for a constant and active bilateral dialogue. It also outlines strategic partnership between the two countries, aiming at further strengthening it. A part of the Treaty that lays out general principles of bilateral relations (Articles 2-7) carries the spirit of the agreement[3]. This is because of this part that the Treaty is labeled “big”. This is about being good reliable and predictable neighbors, respecting sovereignty and borders of each other and resolving any conflict issues by negotiations and peacefully. To a certain extent the Treaty contained a model for post-Soviet space of how relations with Russia can be arranged. The Treaty has been a framework. It was designed to be a basis to a number of other bilateral documents, among which the Black Sea Fleet Agreement of 1997, the Treaty on the Russian-Ukrainian State Border of 2003, and the so-called Kharkiv Accords of 2010 are the most important. Overall there have been 451 interstate agreements between Ukraine and Russia before 2014. Many of them, of course, were signed before the “Big” Treaty. More than forty of them have already been terminated or suspended as a result of annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. The “Big” Treaty is still valid. Why the Treaty Should or Should Not Be Terminated? The Treaty is valid, although attempts to terminate it have been earlier taken. Back in 2014 the Ukrainian Parliament discussed a law, aimed at denouncing the Treaty, but failed to approve it. A broader approach, targeting at breaking off diplomatic relations with Russia and introduce visa regime for Russian citizens visiting Ukraine, has also been quite popular among Ukrainian politicians and experts. Earlier this year the President called for suspension of specific parts of the Treaty. When it comes to discussing Ukraine’s further steps regarding the Treaty or, generally, regarding Russia, there always appears emotional side hand in hand with political reasoning. Having a valid treaty about cooperation, friendship and partnership – referred to as “strategic” in Article 1 of the Treaty – is certainly a kind of schizophrenia under current geopolitical circumstances. The spirit of the document is completely ruined, and it no longer reflects in any way a true agenda of bilateral relations between Ukraine and Russia. On the other hand, the document in many ways reflects actually what Ukraine would like to one day have in relations with Russia: respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, refrain from the use or threat of force or peaceful ways of settling disputes. These are fundamentals of mutual trust and good neighborhood. If Ukraine is ever to have another treaty with Russia, it most certainly would contain all these passages. Traditional argument against terminating the Treaty comes to possible weakening of Ukraine’s position in international courts. However, from a juridical standpoint, the fact that the Treaty had been violated does not depend on whether it is terminated or not. Russia can be hold responsible in any case. From this point of view, it is not clear enough what was meant by President Poroshenko, when he mentioned that Ukraine “is prepared and legally protected enough for a next step – termination of the Treaty…which due to Moscow has long ago become an anachronism.”[4] Ukraine has been equally ready for this step during recent four years. However, it has never been an easy option. Terminating the Treaty is often believed to weaken legal constraints on Russia’s further aggressive actions. On the other hand, by annexing Crimea from Ukraine and supporting separatists in Donbas the Kremlin has demonstrated that considerations of hard power calculations are far more important for Russia than any legal commitments. Not only has the “Big” Treaty with Ukraine been violated, but also founding principles of international law. It doesn’t look like if Russia decides further escalation is in its interests, the Treaty would stop it. But the Treaty is also important in one more regard. Ukraine is a weaker party to a protracted asymmetric conflict. Weaker parties are usually better off when a stronger party is bounded by norms, agreements, and multilateral commitments. In other words having no framework agreement with Russia would damage Ukraine more. Possible weakening of international position versus Russia may be a price for internal political gains. Bringing legal basis of bilateral relations into correspondence with political reality is, of course, necessary and inevitable. The “Big” Treaty hasn’t lived up to expectations, and is certainly among other important international norms, violated by Russia. The end of another ten years period of extension may be a right moment to terminate the Treaty. However, extensive analysis should be carried out to define how termination of the Treaty would impact the whole complex of bilateral Ukrainian-Russian agreements. Conclusion Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine has undermined all the values which were laid out the foundation of bilateral relations and thus made the Treaty outdated. However, there have been good reasons for Ukraine so far not to rush and halt the agreement. A violated Treaty has been referred to in international courts and put additional diplomatic and political costs on Russia. With its fundamental provisions being broken, it still provided minimal toolbox for protecting some of remaining Ukrainian interests in relations with Russia. But today – due to the Treaty’s timeline and Ukrainian elections approaching – compromised decisions have little chances to work out. Rhetoric about abandoning some of the Treaty’s provisions, so popular several months ago, is no longer applied. Terminating the Treaty, as well as announced Constitutional amendments about Ukraine’s NATO and EU membership aspirations, are supposed to work together and help bring electoral result next year. Simple decisions, however, are not going to work in a situation so difficult. Ukraine should be getting ready for more unpredicted and more risky relations with Russia after the Treaty is terminated. [1] [2] [3] Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation // [4] President: We Are Ready for Termination of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation //

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