Hill Times | 08Aug2016 | Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Canada should do more for Ukraine
Dion must stick with Canada’s values instead of muddled messages.
The recent NATO leaders’ summit displayed a united defence for its
members and a favourable nod toward helping Ukraine. Good news. But was
it enough to restrain Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and globally?
Yes, NATO growled back -- a little -- in response to Russian President
Vladimir Putin’s bloody terror in Ukraine and elsewhere. Yes, the 28
members reaffirmed Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea and Donbas and
committed to further support for the Minsk agreements. This means
Russia’s withdrawal of covert and overt troops, the return of political
prisoners, and a complete ceasefire.
And yes, recognizing that Ukraine needs military support to deal with
Putin’s offensive, NATO made further headway by producing a
Comprehensive Assistance Package designed to modernize Ukraine’s
security and defence institutions.
According to NATO documents, the package aims to help Ukraine “carry
out needed reforms, including in the security and defence sector.” It
targets more than 40 areas including cyber security, non-military
oversight, and dealing with the Russia’s bloody hybrid war.
A photo of the smiling threesome -- Ukrainian President Petro
Poroshenko with the leaders of the United States and Britain -- says it
all: Ukraine’s efforts to stand up to Russia are remarkable and
deserving of greater support.
Yet, despite the smiles, NATO decided to keep Ukraine outside of its
protection. Its all-important Article 5 -- which refers to an attack
against one member as an attack on all -- was denied Ukraine primarily
because Russia dreads having it inside the alliance. NATO membership
was extended only to Montenegro, a country of marginal strategic
significance. Surprisingly, Ukraine isn’t even in the lineup of
countries -- Georgia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina -- singled
out for membership readiness.
Ukraine’s exclusion favours Russia and buys it time to attack on its
own terms. To this end, it is amassing military hardware on Europe’s
borders with rapid regularity. In tandem, its hate and war propaganda
attacks NATO and its members, especially the United States.
Summing up, the summit failed to reward sufficiently the key bulwark of
its own defence and favoured, instead, Russia’s bark and war. As NATO
hesitates, Russia advances systematically seizing the psychological
advantage and moving ever more aggressively on Ukraine and elsewhere
Canada’s opposition parties recognized the shortfall. They chided the
government for doing less rather than more for Ukraine at the summit.
James Bezan and Peter Kent, Conservative critics for defence and global
affairs respectively, stated that Canada not only failed to support a
friend, but also lost the opportunity to be a global leader in the
fight against Putin. The NDP opposition demanded that sanctions be
Going forward, Canada’s government can and must do more to push back
Russia physically and dampen the psychological momentum its brazen
lawlessness is breeding.
For starters, Canada must extend training Ukraine’s military into 2017.
Next, our politician must stop condoning Putin’s criminal behaviour
with words or actions.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion was wrong in saying that “It’s
terribly unfortunate that Canada has to deploy its forces in Latvia
instead of having peacekeeping in Africa or in an area of the world
where it’s much more needed.”
He was also wrong to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov,
following the summit. Both incidents work to neutralize NATO’s efforts.
Mr. Dion must stick with Canada’s values instead of muddled messages:
support like-minded partners, including Ukraine, not others creating
havoc throughout the world.
The longer the wait to push back Putin and his paid lackeys operating
in our midst, the worse it will get. Clearly more is needed from NATO
members, from all of us, to stop them.
Oksana Bashuk Hepburn,
former public-servant policy adviser in the Canadian government and
president of a consulting firm brokering interests between Canada and
Ukraine, is a founding member of the Canadian Group for Democracy in