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Nikolai Holmov

Russia Pushes Ukraine at the Borders

Only last week, when writing about the Roshen chocolate ban by Russia, I stated “The Russian message here is quite simple – Tone down the pro-EU rhetoric and your confectionery will suddenly meet the required standards once again. For those other vocally pro-EU business persons of public notoriety and influence, should you also fail to tone down your pro-EU rhetoric, what has happened to Poroshenko is very likely to happen to you also – soon. End of message.”

embargo On Friday talks begin relating to the lifting of the ban of Roshen chocolate and put an end to this back-door sanctions.
Having seen very little reaction from Ukraine over this matter – and certainly not anything like the reaction the Kremlin would have hoped for – it seems Russia has found it necessary to up their anti in trying to make its case to the Ukrainian leadership not to continue to pursue the EU Association Agreement.

It appears that now, all Ukrainian imports into Russia can expect very long and expensive delays – in the case of dairy products, quite possibly ruinously long.

Russian reasoning – risk management. “On midnight on August 14, all Ukrainian importers without exception were added to the first forty enterprises which were entered into to the risk profile of the risk management system of the Federal Customs Service this July. At the same time, the steps to prevent risk were tightened further. As a matter of fact, this means a full halt of Ukrainian exports indefinitely, for weeks or even months.”

Now it has to be said, I would be surprised if this matter was not resolved by the end of the month.

After all amongst the products that will be considerably delayed in arriving with Russian customers are products such as trains and rolling stock, maintenance parts for the aforementioned, steel, pipes and other metals for construction use, jet and prop aviation engines, transformers and road building aggregate and materials – discounting chocolate and dairy produce. All items where replacements are not easily and quickly sourced within Russia – at least not yet.

The aim of this Russian exercise is not to cause lengthy delays to Russian businesses relying on these Ukrainian products – but to cause panic in Kyiv and amongst Ukrainian producers, whilst providing a little taste and fair warning of the pain that may lay ahead if it signs the Association Agreement.

So, will it work?

I very much doubt it. If the EU and its Member States are prepared to sign the agreements in November, Ukraine undoubtedly will sign – regardless of the Russian posturing between now and the EaP Summit in November.

What may work will be any shenanigans in the years between any signing and ratification by all parties – for that period of time will produce very little in the way of tangible benefits visible to the public who will start to wonder if the pain inflicted by Russia during those years is really worth taking.

This post was originally published on OdessaBlogger

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UK citizen living in Ukraine since 2005 after working 15 years for The Crown. Actively engaged in civil society, blogger, Chatham House member, policy wonk, contributer to numerous Eastern European PhD papers, books and papers.

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