Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ukraine to ‘Leave’ CIS in Same Way Georgia Did, ‘Izvestiya’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 19 – Ukraine will leave the Commonwealth of Independent States in the same way Georgia did, dropping its membership in the Russian-dominated organization of former Soviet republics but continuing to honor various agreements it has reached with that group of states, according to today’s Izvestiya.

            Citing unnamed sources in Kyiv, Aleksey Zabrodin and Dmitry Laru, two journalists at the Moscow paper say that the Ukrainian authorities are doing exactly what Georgia did earlier. They note that Kyiv has not officially dropped its membership and that CIS officials expect it to develop a relationship with the organization even after it formally leaves.

            Since 2014, Ukrainian officials have not taken part in CIS-wide activities, they say; but at the same time, Kyiv has continued to honor most of the agreements it signed with the organization; and Moscow thinks that it will likely continue to do so just as Georgia has done (

            According to CIS officials, Ukraine in recent months has been trying to provoke the organization to take the kind of action against Kyiv that could be used to justify a harder break. But the CIS, almost certainly at Moscow’s order, has refused to be drawn, forcing Kyiv to come up with its own post-membership arrangements.

            At present, the two journalists say, Kyiv is following the Georgian “scenario,” planning to quit the organization but “remain a participant in certain agreement which were obligatory for members of the CIS.” That is what Georgia has done in the case of 34 agreements on a wide variety of issues, including railway operations.

            (The Izvestiya article doesn’t note, but after the three Baltic countries recovered their independence in 1991, they too retained their membership in the railway commissions that Moscow describes as CIS-based even though the three formerly occupied republics have never joined the Commonwealth.)

                Many of the agreements Moscow describes as CIS accords in fact are typical of relations among countries in various regions, including such things as mutual recognition of diplomas and rail transportation. That these are likely to be retained will be presented by Moscow as showing that Kyiv has not made a clean break with the CIS.

             Ukraine has already been on the way out of the CIS since Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014. It has refused to pay its membership dues or to take part in official meetings. In 2015, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said that the CIS does not serve Ukrainian interests, although it still uses the free trade arrangements among members. 

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