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Motivated by this other question which refers to a peace treaty made with the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. What then happened with the treaties made with the Soviet Union: were they automatically invalidated, were they automatically viewed as having been made with Russia, or something else?

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1 Answer 1

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Yes, as the Russian Federation is legally the successor state of the USSR and assumes all obligations, roles, debts, etc. of the former entity. Interestingly, Ukraine also claims that it's the successor state of the USSR. Obviously, this claim has not be recognized by the UN as the Russian Federation has the previously owned permanent seat on the security council.

This situation is not new. A similar situation happened with China, as China was undergoing a civil war in prior to WWII and still was during the conclusion of the war when the UN was founded. The country known currently known as Taiwan was recognized as "China" (i.e. the Republic of China). The government of the Republic of China lost the civil war and the People's Republic of China was founded while the former government retreated to the island of Taiwan. Both entities claimed to be the legal successor state of "China" but in 1971, Taiwan was no longer recognized and the People's Republic of China was formally recognized as the successor state of the Republic of China. In fact, Taiwan is not recognized at all by the UN, so the situation is slightly different from the USSR situation.

But like the People's Republic of China, the Russian federation assumes all responsibility, obligation, etc. of its predecessor. A clear example of this for China is the 99 year lease of the Hong Kong territory, which was made by the Qing dynasty and fulfilled by the People's Republic of China. There are numerous example for the Russian Federation; e.g. the precursor to the international space station program, Mir, had its former Soviet obligations fulfilled by the Russian Federation.

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  • Do nations ever try to renegotiate?
    – frеdsbend
    Jun 5 at 16:38
  • @frеdsbend renegotiation gives the implication of discontinuity. It's optically disadvantageous to do so as it hurts the claim that you're the same legal entity. For example, look at present day Afghanistan. The Taliban is trying their hardest to maintain all contracts and agreements made under the previous government.
    – uberhaxed
    Jun 5 at 16:51
  • I was thinking more like everyone else wanted to renegotiate.
    – frеdsbend
    Jun 5 at 21:29
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    @fredsbend What precisely is "everyone else" trying to renegotiate? Countries already exercise their ability to not recognize certain states or to recognize certain states. Notoriously, Russia recognizes the breakaway regions as separate states. Israel is not recognized by 28 members of the UN. Palestine is is not recognized by over 50 members of the UN. North Korea is not recognized by 7 members of the UN. South Korea is not recognized by 1 member of the UN (North Korea; interestingly this is reciprocal and North Korea is not recognized by the South). As you can see though, it's just optics.
    – uberhaxed
    Jun 5 at 23:47
  • How about "we'll recognize your new state, but ...."?
    – frеdsbend
    Jun 6 at 0:04

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