The world is watching as concerns deepen around the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, much like the annexation of Crimea in 2014 that saw the removal of Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an additional $500 million loan, as well as nearly $8 million worth of lethal equipment and ammunition. The move comes after the federal government provided a $120 million loan in January, as well as the authorization of a three-year extension for the Operation UNIFIER training mission—a $340 million commitment.
The loan, supported through the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act (BWRAA), will “support the country’s economic resilience in the face of Russian military aggression,” the government said in a press release.
According to the federal government, the export of lethal weaponry includes “machine guns, pistols, carbines, 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, sniper rifles, and various related equipment.” The final item on the list brings into question what other weapons of war Canada is sponsoring for Ukraine.
All major parties except Conservatives renew calls for a non-violent response
The decision to send lethal arms overseas was condemned by most major federal parties, but condoned by the Conservatives, who called on Trudeau to take the measures last month.
In a Wednesday statement to rabble.ca from the Green Party, press secretary John Chenery condemned the move to export weapons and ammunition from Canada to Ukraine.
Chenery reiterated the party’s position that “military aggression and human rights violations should be met with strong non-violent responses.”
Green Party interim Leader Amita Kuttner said that Canada should continue to support the strengthening of Ukraine’s civil society and democratic institutions and training for its civilian police forces.
“Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected and its citizens must be allowed to determine their future without foreign interference,” they said in a statement to rabble.ca.
NDP Critic for Foreign Affairs Heather McPherson, in a statement to rabble.ca, said that New Democrats are “concerned with the ongoing situation in Ukraine and the threat it poses to innocent people and the country’s democracy.”
Reiterating that Canada has an obligation to support the people of Ukraine, McPherson called on the Trudeau government to work with its partners to de-escalate the situation overseas.
“New Democrats urge the Canadian government to focus its efforts on supporting the people of Ukraine through robust diplomacy, humanitarian aid and improve mobility opportunities for Ukrainians seeking to come to Canada,” she said.
Federal government committed to ‘de-escalation’
The Trudeau government says it remains “committed to de-escalation,” despite approving millions more to export lethal weapons.
Trudeau noted that Canada’s lethal aid is in addition to exports of weaponry from the U.S., Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, and the Netherlands.
The prime minister also announced that Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly would make a trip to Germany and France “to reiterate Canada’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with international partners.”
“Canada will not stand idly by while the rules-based international order is challenged,” Joly said. “We remain committed to a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing crisis and urge Russia to de-escalate and engage in meaningful dialogue. Any further invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military will be met with severe consequences.”
The updated support for Ukraine came on the same day as the federal government joined their G7 counterparts in a statement to “continue to provide bilateral and multilateral economic support and work closely with international financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to protect the fiscal and economic stability of Ukraine.”
A Wednesday press release noted that the minister will “reinforce Canada’s key foreign policy priorities, including our unwavering support to NATO,” as well as discussing with allies efforts to “resolve the current crisis in Ukraine diplomatically and the swift, severe consequences Russia will face should the Russian military further invade Ukraine.”
The federal government began advising against all travel to Ukraine as of February 1.
As The New York Times reported on Wednesday, Ukrainian minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was considering “holding a referendum that could keep his country from joining NATO.”
The move would come as part of a settlement “to the war in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops are locked in a bloody stalemate with Russian-backed separatists.”