It seems like years ago instead of just the seven months since Ukraine ousted President Viktor Yanukovych following months of protests in Kiev. The catalyst for the protests was Yanukovych's refusal to sign a landmark political and trade agreement with the European Union, a decision he made at the behest of his patrons in Moscow and a decision that ultimately cost him his job.
There has been a flurry of activity: Yanukovych's abandonment of the lavish presidential palace and his escape to Russia, the reemergence of major political opposition figure Yulia Tymoshenko, and, of course, the wresting of Crimea to Russia, the months-long insurgency in eastern Ukraine, the shooting down of MH17, the reigniting of Cold War tensions, and the rise of new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. On Tuesday, Ukraine's parliament signed the comprehensive EU pact that had so bedeviled the country.
Ukraine has ratified the association agreement with the EU, 355 for, none against, 26 abstained. pic.twitter.com/6NxHtxAANW— max seddon (@maxseddon) September 16, 2014
Following the pact's ratification, Poroshenko paid tribute to the protestors and Ukrainian soldiers that had died over the course of the year:
Somewhere between a confidence-building gesture and a concession, the Ukrainian parliament also approved a measure that offered amnesty and self-rule to the separatist rebels, whose months-long insurgency hasn't entirely quieted, despite an eleven-day ceasefire. As the BBC noted:
The amnesty law passed by the Ukrainian parliament means pro-Russian separatists taken prisoner in the fighting should now be released.
Rebels holding government buildings in the east are now supposed to leave them, hand over captured Ukrainian soldiers and other prisoners and surrender their weapons."
The call for self-rule apparently caused divisions within the rebel factions, some of whom are maintaining their calls for full independence from Ukraine:
Donetsk rebels refused to support @Poroshenko's 'self-rule' proposal for Eastern Ukraine, Luhansk rebels liked it, RIA reports— Maxim Eristavi (@MaximEristavi) September 16, 2014
Despite the signing, which was also hailed as "historic" by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, and the amnesty/self-rule measure, this hardly seems like an ending point for the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine. With the extant rebel threat and the continued opposition from Moscow, today's good news seems likely to augur tomorrow's bad news for Ukraine.