And so begins a long and bumpy road through 2016 – UkraineJanuary 1, 2016
Right on cue, at about 1700 hours on New Year’s Eve, the first snow began to fall in Odessa – albeit it fell so sparsely that it covered the ground so thinly and so threadbare as to mimic the depth of a Ukrainian politician’s promise.
Nevertheless the thin veneer of snow painted the appropriate scene to allow Ded Moroz to fulfill all his imaginary obligations in the child minds of the Ukrainian generation that will hopefully fulfill its potential in the decades to come, making the most of the opportunities hopefully enabled by this generation.
Midnight saw Ukraine enter 2016 with the national anthem as it tradition, with the nation first having suffered seemingly endless television appearances of their local/regional politicians and nefarious businessmen/women presenting their annual faux personas, and spewing forth festive/seasonal greetings and wishing goodwill to their fellow constituents in the yearly effort to mitigated the lies, distortions, manipulations, falsehoods, fabrications, deceit and dishonesty of the previous year – and also to mitigate the odious acts they will continue commit in 2016 at the expense of every local constituent that sat through their various performances.
For Odessa, there are no words nor gestures that the likes of Sergei Kivalov nor Gennady Trukhanov et al., can utter in the cyclical messaging that is meant to misdirect the viewer away from their continuing odious activities. No matter how you may try to polish a turd – a turd it remains!
By the end of the national anthem a few moments after midnight however, things had changed for Ukraine.
The long ratified Association Agreement and DCFTA with the EU finally came into full effect after a spectacular fail of Kremlin diplomacy in efforts to prevent it. This entering into force thus simultaneously, and as reciprocity demands, also witnessed the coming into effect of what amounts to a Kremlin embargo upon Ukrainian goods as far as the Russian Federation is concerned. Kazakhstan and Belarus thus far ignoring the Kremlin lead – so much for CIS and EEU camaraderie and discipline.
Not to be outdone, Ukraine will sanction Russia products too.
Ukraine also assumed its seat upon the UNSC with the passing of midnight – no longer will Lithuania as the previous representative of the “Eastern European Group” have need to do diplomatic battle on Ukrainian behalf at the UNSC – for the next 2 years Ukraine will be able to do so itself.
The ticking of the clock and the arrival at a new year also witnessed the original Minsk II agreement deadline pass being far from implemented. Despite the agreement to extend the deadline and the accompanying rhetoric, 2016 is unlikely to see it implemented in its entirety either without a significant change in either attitude, or perhaps circumstances (regardless of attitude) within The Kremlin.
All of the above considered, the slow, treaty by treaty, trading standard by trading standard, unpicking of Ukrainian-Russian post Soviet legacies as far as legal instruments are concerned, continue – much of it instigated by The Kremlin, yet making western facing politics so much easier for the pro-European Ukrainians by doing so.
This is not an entry that will look to what will be a difficult, frustrating, irksome, occasionally infuriating, sometimes mystifying 2016 – sprinkled with some genuine accomplishments too – that await Ukraine and Ukrainians. There will be other entries that will do that.
For today, with the turning of the calendar to first day of 2016, there are perhaps sufficient events that have manifested to fill any 24 hour period.