Tomorrow will be 2019 – wow, time sure do fly. To prepare for this great event, Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday has already sent out his New Year’s greetings to his peers in the world leaders club. I reckon this is a custom among world leaders, and they don’t wait until the last minute to do it. Each greeting is a carefully crafted message laying out wishes and expectations.
For Kremlinologists, this is also a great opportunity to figure out the Russian government’s attitude towards various leaders. For example, if somebody didn’t get a New Year greeting, then this is considered an important snub. Hence, as protocol demands, let us cover the snubs first:
According to VZGLIAD reporter Sergei Guryanov, Putin did not congratulate the Presidents of the Ukraine and Gruzia, respectively, Petro Poroshenko and Salome Zurabishvili. Nor did he congratulate the leaders of the Baltic nations, nor Poland, nor North Korea.
North Korea?! The others I understand, but what did North Korea ever do to Russia?
Anyhow, the lucky receivers of the Putin greeting were posted on the Kremlin’s official website, here: Along with each greeting, there is a little blurb with some happy talk about relations and progress made so far, etc., some best wishes and nice thoughts offered to the leader of that country, and also some advice how to make things even better for the mutual relationship.
Listing by the same order as on the Kremlin site, it starts off alphabetical (according to the order of the Cyrillic alphabet) from Abkhazia through South Ossetia. These are all post-Soviet Republics, of one sort or another. Then it starts the alphabet again, for non-post-Soviet countries, starting with Argentina. The rest of the countries are in (Cyrillic) alphabetical order, through Japan, whose name (Япония) begins with the last letter of the Cyrillic alphabet.
- South Ossetia
- Vatican (=the Pope)
- Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- South Korea
- United States of America
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
Okay, that’s it, and I double-checked and proofread, to make sure I didn’t miss anybody. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of other countries that got left out of the Russian greeting, e.g., Pakistan, Bolivia, Columbia, Slovakia… Not sure if there is a rhyme or reason to it, if these worthy nations were snubbed, or just overlooked!
One possible way of looking at this is that Russia congratulated all the post-Soviet neighbors except for the really hateful ones; and most of the other countries that are “sort of” friendly to Russia, or at least not hostile (like Hungary, Israel, India, etc. — but this theory is contradicted by including Czech Republic but not Slovakia!), and then also big Westie countries (like Germany, France, U.K., USA) that are totally hateful but too important to be snubbed (?)
In any case, I think it goes without saying that this list and these greetings, were compiled by the Russian Foreign Office and not by Putin himself. Russian diplomats are said to be among the best, and most experienced, diplomats in the whole world. Maybe second just to China.