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Ukrainian president signs law to end friendship treaty with Russia

Ukrainian president signs law to end friendship treaty with Russia

Kiev: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the legislation on ending the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia, the presidential press service said on Monday.

The treaty, which has been in place for about two decades, will be terminated on April 1, 2019 amid rising tensions between the two countries.

The Ukrainian leader said that the non-extension of the deal is "a part of the Ukrainian strategy of reorientation towards Europe," Xinhua news agency reported.

The bill was approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday, supported by 277 votes, far more than the 226 minimum required.

In September, Poroshenko signed a decree to enforce a decision of the National Security and Defence Council to terminate the friendship treaty with Russia.

Under the agreement, which was signed in 1997 and took effect on April 1, 1999, Kiev and Moscow pledged to respect each other's borders and to peacefully settle disputes.

The agreement includes a clause that it automatically extends each ten years if neither of the parties takes actions to end it.

Relations between Kiev and Moscow, which have been deteriorating since early 2014 over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, escalated last month.

On November 25, three Ukrainian ships attempting to sail through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov were seized by Russian forces for allegedly violating the Russian border.

The Ukrainian Navy said that it had informed Russia in advance of the passage, while Russia said it had received no such report and the ships ignored multiple warnings by the Russian border guards.

In wake of the tension, Ukraine imposed martial law in 10 regions mainly bordering Russia for 30 days starting from November 26.

Poroshenko said that "martial law does not mean the declaration of war," but a step toward strengthening Ukraine's defence.

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