[JURIST] New Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko [official website] on Friday signed a trade and economic pact [press release] with the European Union (EU) [official website] in an attempt to move from past Russian ties towards European influence. Ukraine, along with Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, is currently a part of the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP) [official website], which was organized by the Committee of the Regions (COR) [official website] to develop dialogue with Eastern Partnership countries and the EU. Ukraine and the CORLEAP countries all took a step closer to becoming a part of the EU by signing the new economic and trade pact. The President of COR Michel Lebrun stated in regards to the agreement, "[t]he signing of the Association Agreements shall be backed with even deeper partnership on the regional and local level in order to achieve concrete results on the ground and strengthen local democracy."
The ongoing conflict [BBC timeline] in Ukraine has reinvigorated fears of Cold War Era politics and increased tensions between Russia and the West. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] urged [JURIST report] Ukraine opposition groups in May to "lay down their weapons" and come to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In April the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] announced [JURIST report] that it had begun preliminary investigations into alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated during the unrest in Ukraine. The month before the UN approved a resolution [JURIST report] invalidating Crimea's [JURIST backgrounder] secession from Ukraine less than a week after the EU imposed sanctions [JURIST reports] on Russia for annexing the region.