Ukrainian Lawmaker Proposes Amendment that Severs Ties with Russia
Fractures are becoming increasingly visible within the Ukrainian parliament as an amendment to Ukraine’s Donbas reintegration bill. It ensures the sovereignty of Ukraine over temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The proposed amendment, aims to sever ties between Kiev and Moscow. Ivan Vinnyk, the purported author of the amendment, released a statement to RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service stating that while the amendment has not yet been proposed, he intends to submit it on November 16, during the second reading of the bill.
The exact process of terminating relations was described by Vinnyk in a statement to Radio Liberty as " within three months from the date of entry into force of this law, to denounce, terminate, withdraw the signature under the protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Russia ... after that, diplomatic relations will be terminated. This does not mean that we will not be able to support a certain volume of trade relations if necessary, that Ukrainians will not be able to travel to Russia ... ".
The amendment would have Ukraine withdraw from any bilateral negotiations with Russia and conduct any subsequent negotiations via a third-party intermediary. While it would not be binding, the amendment would result in increased hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
Vinnyk is a member of Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s-who heads his own liberal, conservative “Solidarity” party- parliamentary bloc; Vinnyk also has ties to the Ukrainian’s right-wing political party, the People’s Front. Political fractures are evident.
Poroshenko’s primary agenda has been to consolidate power in preparation for the 2019 presidential election. However, tackling pre-election maneuvering has proven to be difficult given Poroshenko’s inability to adequately address anticorruption reform and continued conflicts in the Donbas region. These unresolved disputes have culminated in the decline of Poroshenko’s approval ratings to 17%.
Poroshenko’s deteriorating approval ratings may have prompted by Arsen Avakov, the leader of the People’s front, to seize a political opportunity and push more aggressively for anti-Russian policies. The two politicians are subsequently embroiled in a power dispute that heavily politicizes the nature of the proposed amendment.
Poroshenko does not support severing relations with Russia, a position conveyed to the Ukrainian media by Vinnik himself. In a press release conducted by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Sakharov, the amendment was labelled as something “to distract the public attention from the growing problems”. Sakharov decried Ukrainian politicians for their blatant disregard for the livelihood of Ukrainian citizens, making it clear that Moscow, perhaps correctly, perceives the proposed amendment solely as an instance of political maneuvering.