Leading Ukrainian politician warns Canada not to resume ties with Russia
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 1:32PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 1:53PM EST
A leading Ukrainian politician is warning Canada against resuming regular diplomatic relations with Russia, arguing efforts to re-engage Moscow, as the Trudeau government plans, have failed elsewhere.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government says it wants to start talking to Russia again – on topics of shared concern such the Arctic. The former Harper government suspended all but low-level diplomatic contacts after Moscow seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.
Russia is still backing pro-Moscow militants in eastern Ukraine who continue to destabilize the region despite a shaky ceasefire.
Andriy Parubiy, deputy speaker for Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, or parliament, is visiting Ottawa this week to meet with members of Parliament and senators and bolster Canadian support for Ukraine.
He said the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has distracted many governments including Canada.
“Regarding the new reset policy of Canada towards Russia, we would like to tell Canadians how dangerous Russia for global security,” Mr. Parubiy said in an interview.
“Several years ago we saw the reset attempts of [the] Obama [administration] and we saw how it failed.”
He argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin will take advantage of warming relations.
“Putin understands only the language of force in international relations,” the deputy speaker said.
“The diplomacy of the Western countries – he perceives [this] as a sign of weakness… you will lose time and you will be back where you started from.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last month welcomed the shift in policy by the Trudeau government and took a swipe at Ukrainian Canadian lobby groups, saying the defeated Conservative administration before them was “Russophobic” and had “blindly” followed “the demands of rabid representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.”
Mr. Parubiy said he is working to create a inter-Parliamentary Ukraine-Canada friendship group of MPs and Senators and hopes to bring Canadian Parliamentarians to the Ukraine for a visit soon.
He said many people around the world are under the mistaken impression that the crisis in Ukraine is over.
The ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Moscow forces in the eastern Donbass region has left the conflict unresolved. More than 9,100 people have died in the fighting here since April 2014, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Canada has lent Ukraine $400-million to help rebuild and donated non-lethal military aid.
Canadian soldiers are training Ukrainian troops in western Ukraine and the two countries are preparing to finalize a Canada-Ukraine trade deal.