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Ukraine: Demarcation of Border with Russia

(Dec. 2, 2014) On November 19, 2014, the Government of Ukraine announced that it will approve the draft of the President’s Executive Order that provides for the beginning of work on delimitation of the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. (Government Approved President’s Decree on Unilateral Demarcation of Borderline Between Ukraine and Russia, GOVERNMENT INFORMATION PORTAL (Nov. 19, 2014) (in Russian).)

The Treaty Between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on the Russian-Ukrainian State Border was signed on January 28, 2003, by then President Kuchma of Ukraine and President Putin of the Russian Federation. (BIULLETEN MEZHDUNARODNYKH DOGOVOROV [Bulletin of International Treaties, official publication] No. 7 (2004), President of the Russian Federation website.) The Treaty states that the Russian-Ukrainian state border will be the line and the vertical surface (a virtual vertical line that divides subsoil, waters, and airspace between two countries) following that line that divide the state territories of the parties to the Treaty from the point where the state borders of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus meet to a point located on the coast of the Taganrog Gulf. (Id. art. 1.) The point where the state borders of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus meet was to be defined by a separate treaty. (Id. art. 4.)

The actual demarcation of the border was not carried out at the time the Treaty was concluded. On May 14, 2010, the Russian Federation government issued Resolution No. 720-r, ordering the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to start work on concluding an agreement with the Ukrainian government on the demarcation of the border. (COLLECTION OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION LEGISLATION [official gazette], No. 21, Item 2630 (2010) (in Russian).) It appears that no such agreement was concluded, however, and, according to news reports, no work on defining the borderline has been done. Since 2010, the Russian-Ukrainian Commission on the Border Demarcation has met 18 times, and only one border post was placed on the Russian side of the border. Ukraine has placed about 235 border signs thus far;7,000-10,000 additional signs need to be erected. The border between Ukraine and Russia is more than 1,200 miles long. (Government Approved Draft President’s Executive Order on Unilateral Border Demarcation, NEWSRU.UA (Nov. 19, 2014) (in Russian).)

According to Russian government statements, the border construction will be financed by foreign aid and national budget funds and will be finished in three years. (Wall on the Russian Border Will Be Built in Three Years, UNIAN.NET (Oct. 16, 2014) (in Russian).)

Ukraine recently negotiated the demarcation of its almost 650-mile-long northern border with Belarus, and an intergovernmental agreement between Ukraine and Belarus was approved by the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers on November 12, 2014. (Cabinet of Ministers Approved the Agreement with Belarus on Border Demarcation, NEWSRU.UA, (Nov. 12, 2014) (in Russian).) The Government of Belarus approved the Statute on Border Demarcation on December 24, 2014. (Belarus Council of Ministers Resolution No. 1097 of Nov. 24, 2014, REPUBLIC OF BELARUS NATIONAL LEGAL INTERNET PORTAL (Nov. 26, 2014) (in Belorusian).)