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Ukraine parliament passes bill to recover regions occupied by Russia

[JURIST] The Ukraine parliament (Verkhovna Rada) passed a bill [materials, in Ukrainian] Thursday that recognizes regions currently under Russia-backed separatist control as "occupied" and supports retrieving those areas through political and diplomatic means while allowing for military action.

The bill was approved by 280 members of the 450-member parliament and endorsed [Tweet, in Ukrainian] by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

In addition to recognition of the areas as "occupied," the new bill labels Russia as an "aggressor" and upholds a ban on trade and a transportation blockade of the eastern regions put into action last year.

The peace deals [BBC report] reached in Minsk in 2015 by Ukrainian, Russian, French and German leaders were not mentioned in the bill. The peace deals agreed upon by the countries included provisions for de-escalation and self-government for separatists areas. The bill's support for reintegration of these areas has prompted criticism from Russian foreign policy officials and separatists who see the legislation as sabotaging the peace deals in Minsk and as creating a situation for future military escalation in the area.

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