WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2018
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Ukraine considers cutting ties to Russia
Journal Staff Report

KYIV, Nov. 8 - A lawmaker from President Petro Poroshenko's party said Wednesday that he plans to propose legislation that would sever diplomatic relations with Russia, RFE/RL reported.

Ivan Vinnyk made the comments hours after Russian media reports said that he had already submitted the proposal, prompting criticism from Moscow.

The proposal comes as Parliament considers a bill governing what lawmakers hope will be the "reintegration" of parts of eastern Ukraine held by Russia-backed separatists whose war against Kyiv has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014.

The single-chamber parliament approved the bill in its first of two required votes on October 6. The second and final vote, which would send the bill to Poroshenko if it is approved by the Rada, is expected next week.

Vinnyk told RFE/RL that he has not yet submitted an amendment that would require Ukraine to cut diplomatic ties with Moscow but intends to do so.

His proposal would "oblige the cabinet of ministers, 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 ties will be terminated," Vinnyk said. "This does not mean that we will not be able to support a certain amount of trade relations if necessary, [or] that Ukrainians will not be able to travel to Russia."

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the plan.

Russian officials and pro-Kremlin politicians lashed out swiftly following reports that Vinnyk had proposed cutting off ties.

"If such a decision is taken...it will further complicate the situation and...damage the interests of people both in Ukraine itself and in Russia," said Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

Peskov suggested it would undermine efforts to end the war in eastern Ukraine, which persists despite a European-brokered pact on a cease-fire and steps to end the conflict and restore Ukrainian control over separatist-held areas.

Kyiv and NATO say Russia has sent troops into Ukraine and has also been arming and funding the separatists, claims that Moscow denies despite mounting evidence.

The conflict broke out after Russia fomented separatism across eastern and southern Ukraine -- and seized the Crimean Peninsula -- following pro-European protests that pushed Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014.

Putin is likely to discuss the war in Ukraine with U.S. President Donald Trump at a possible meeting on the sidelines of a November 10-11 Asia-Pacific economic summit in Vietnam.

The U.S. envoy for efforts to end the conflict, Kurt Volker, said last week that he will plans to meet with Kremlin envoy Vladislav Surkov on November 13 in Belgrade. (rfe/ez)

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