Ukraine says it could quit Russia-led political bloc
KIEV, March 19
KIEV, March 19 (Reuters) - Ukraine could review its membership of the Moscow-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) following Russia's move to incorporate the Crimea peninsula, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
A statement on the ministry's website said Ukraine had already decided it no longer wished to serve as 2014 chairman of the CIS, a loose grouping of former Soviet states with limited decision-making power.
"Ukraine has decided not to continue its chairmanship of the CIS for 2014...(and) reserves the right to review its future membership," Foreign Ministry spokesman Evhen Perebynis said in the statement.
He said many member states of the CIS had supported Moscow's move to take control of Crimea and sign a treaty to make it a part of Russia.
Ukraine has had an uneasy relationship with the CIS since it was created following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and has on occasions stayed away from its twice yearly summits.
But under former Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich, ousted last month after three months of protests, it had developed closer ties with the group.
A Russian deputy foreign minister, Vasily Nebenzya, told RIA news agency that Russia regretted Kiev's decision on the CIS chairmanship but added that "it is their right".
The CIS groups all 15 former Soviet republics except the three Baltic states - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - which never joined and Georgia, which pulled out over its 2008 war with Russia. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Ron Popeski)
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