If the population within a region of Ukraine wanted to become a part of Russia (suppose a fair vote was 75% in favor), is there a peaceful legal/government procedure in Ukraine to make this happen? Assume Russia is welcoming.

  • 2
    Maybe a more descriptive and prescriptive term, like Legal procedures for regional secession in Ukraine would improve clarity. The body itself is clear enough on what you're asking however. Timely question. One remark about the elusive notion of "fairness" (but not necessarily assuming this happened): 75% within a region may still not make things fully fair if significant population movements were triggered by unrests resulting from preceding secession attempts. Dec 31, 2021 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


This would require a constitutional amendment:

Article 2

The sovereignty of Ukraine extends throughout its entire territory.

Ukraine is a unitary state.

The territory of Ukraine within its present [ie 1996] border is indivisible and inviolable. (source)

Now, as this is part of Chapter 1, it could only be amended by a 2/3 majority in the Verkhovna Rada, followed by a referendum in the whole of Ukraine, not just the secessionist region.

Moreover, Article 157 states:

The Constitution of Ukraine shall not be amended, if the amendments are [...] oriented toward the liquidation of the independence or violation of the territorial indivisibility of Ukraine.

So an amendment to cede part of the territory to Russia would itself be unconstitutional, and the Supreme court has the explicit power to rule that any discussion in the Ukrainian Parliament is unconstitutional. It seems likely that even discussion to remove the restriction in 157 would be "oriented towards violation of the territorial indivisibility". The writers of the constitution tried very hard to make Article 2 unamendable by any constitutional process.

Of course, the constitution is only a piece of paper; it isn't self-enforcing. The government and people of Ukraine could simply ignore the constitution, or make no attempt to enforce it - laying claim de jure but allowing secession de facto. However, I would not call this a "procedure", rather the inherent fact that state boundaries are not natural but defined by humans.

  • ... actually I'm beginning to think that I'm using "self-enforcing" wrong... A self-enforcing agreement is one that remains in force only while all parties believe it is mutually beneficial. Perhaps I should rephrase that. ...
    – James K
    Dec 31, 2021 at 16:44
  • Thanks for the details, I see that the procedure is nearly impossible! Financially, let me add that there should also be some payment by Russia, at least for the region's portion of national debt (and maybe natural resources though that gets more complicated and arbitrary).
    – bobuhito
    Jan 3, 2022 at 17:42
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    What about article 73? "Altering the territory of Ukraine IS[sic] resolved exclusively by an All-Ukrainian referendum". This seems to imply that it would be possible to have a nation-wide referendum to secede parts of Ukraine. In combination with article 2 it would perhaps only allow to make Ukraine larger, not smaller. But I think the answer should mention it for completeness sake.
    – Philipp
    Feb 22, 2022 at 10:49

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