By Paul Goble
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, the Ukrainian authorities are moving to denounce the last legal ties Kyiv had with Moscow, with the Ukrainian government denouncing two more CIS agreements and President Volodymyr Zelensky calling for the introduction of a visa regime with the Russian Federation.
Zelensky’s proposal may strike many as strange given that Russia has invaded Ukraine, but it is one of an increasing number of measures the Ukrainian government has been taking to eliminate all the legal entanglements Ukraine and Russia have been part of at least on paper for the last 30 years (apostrophe.ua/article/economy/foreign-trade/2022-05-27/nikogda-myi-ne-budem-bratyami-kak-ukraina-rvet-svyazi-s-rossiey/46118).
Ukraine formally left the Russian-dominated CIS in 2018 when it closed its representation there; and in the last four years, Kyiv has step by step annulled the agreements it earlier signed with that body. Now it has denounced two of the last, one on a common agricultural area and a second on double taxation.
The first of these never had much meaning because Russia did not allow the formation of a common agricultural space across the CIS; and the second has no meaning because few Russian firms remain operational in Ukraine and few Ukrainian ones in the Russian Federation, a pattern unlikely to change anytime soon.
These legal steps may strike people as almost comic given the relationship or more precisely the absence of a relationship between the two countries. But they are important not only for housekeeping purposes but as a sign that Russia and Ukraine will never be “the fraternal peoples” Putin has sometimes talked about.
And the fact that it has taken so long to unpack things is quite typical of international organizations. After all, it is worth recalling that the last meeting of the failed League of Nations took place not before the world war it could not prevent but after a new alliance emerged, defeated the fascists and won that conflict.