Ukrainian servicemen on armored personal carriers (APC) take part in brigade tactical exercises with combat shooting near Goncharivske, Chernihiv region, not far from the border with Russia on Dec 3, 2018. (SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP)
KIEV - The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday approved a bill on ending the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia on April 1, 2019, the parliament's press service said.
The legislation, which was submitted by President Petro Poroshenko, was supported by 277 votes, far more than the 226 minimum required.
Russian authorities have not commented on it yet.
Under the treaty, Kiev and Moscow pledged to respect each other's borders and to peacefully settle disputes
In September, Poroshenko signed a decree to enforce a decision of the National Security and Defense Council to terminate the friendship treaty with Russia signed in 1997.
Under the treaty, Kiev and Moscow pledged to respect each other's borders and to peacefully settle disputes.
The long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine that started with Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 spilled into the open on Nov 25 when the Russian coast guard fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews. The seamen are still in Russian captivity.
Ukraine's foreign minister on Thursday reiterated his country's call for the release and safe return of the 24 Ukrainian sailors.
Pavlo Klimkin in a speech at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe warned that since the Crimean annexation Russia has not pulled back but, on the contrary, has extended operations into the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
With the Ukraine-Russia conflict at the top of the OSCE agenda, the EU's high representative Federica Mogherini on Thursday also called on Russia to release the Ukrainian ships and soldiers "without delay."
Poroshenko responded to the standoff by introducing martial law for 30 days, something Ukraine hadn't done even after Crimea's annexation and amid large-scale fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in 2014-2015.
As part of martial law, Ukraine has beefed up its forces on the border with Russia, called up reservists for training and barred entry to all Russian males aged between 16 and 60.
Poroshenko in an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Thursday called on the West to respond to what he described as Russia's aggression by imposing additional sanctions on the Kremlin
Poroshenko in an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Thursday called on the West to respond to what he described as Russia's aggression by imposing additional sanctions on the Kremlin.
"Our common task is not to allow Russia to spill its aggression into the Sea of Azov," he said. "While the West is speaking, Mr. Putin is acting. It is time to respond."
Also on Thursday, an unarmed US Air Force plane with American and international observers flew a special flight over Ukraine in a show of solidarity after Ukraine's naval confrontation last month with Russia in the Black Sea, the Pentagon said.
In a statement, the Pentagon called it an "extraordinary" flight under the Open Skies Treaty, which is an international accord that gives each member country the right to conduct, and the obligation to accept, unarmed military observation flights. The purpose is to promote transparency in military activities.
Normally these flights are arranged well in advance. But the treaty also permits "extraordinary," or extra, flights if two participating members agree. In this case, the Ukrainian military requested a flight and the US agreed to conduct it over an uncontested portion of Ukraine territory, according to Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.
Pahon said this was the first "extraordinary" Open Skies flight since 2014 in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.
HONG KONG NEWS