Wednesday, January 26, 2022

As talks with Russia stall, NATO chief warns of a new war in Europe. CBC News

The threat of a new war in Europe is very real, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today after talks with Russia at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

Stoltenberg’s warning comes as the Trudeau government faces growing political pressure from the vocal Ukrainian expatriate community in Canada to help prevent an invasion by Russian troops.

The meeting of the NATO-Russia Council ended without a firm commitment to further negotiations on Moscow’s demands. Russia is insisting that Ukraine be stripped of NATO membership and the deployment of coalition troops and equipment in Eastern Europe be brought back to 1997 levels.

Those demands have been completely rejected by the coalition. Stoltenberg said Wednesday’s four-hour meeting between NATO ambassadors and a Russian delegation was a “defining moment for European security”.

NATO was ready to hold talks with Russia about military exercises, arms control and missile deployment, he said – but it would not allow Moscow to decide which countries could join the alliance.

“There is a real risk to new armed conflict in Europe,” Stoltenberg said on availability after the meeting.

“There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia. Our differences will not be easy to bridge, but it is a positive sign that all NATO allies and Russia are sitting around the same table and engaged on real topics.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, center, and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, fourth right, arrive for the NATO-Russia Council at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. (Olivier Hoslet/Associated Press)

Moscow has repeatedly denied that it plans to invade Ukraine – but on Tuesday more than 3,000 Russian troops conducted a live-fire exercise close to the border. Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that his country needs written security guarantees that further NATO expansion will not take place.

Stoltenberg said any use of force by Russia against Ukraine would be “a serious strategic mistake” for which Russia would pay a high price.

His comments were echoed today by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he condemned the threat of Russian aggression “in no uncertain terms” during a phone call a day earlier with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

‘Significant results’ for Russia

“We are all extremely concerned about this and are united as allies around the world to call on Russia to de-escalate and [have] indicated that further aggressive action by Russia would have significant consequences in the form of sanctions,” Trudeau said.

He also said Canada would “continue to be there”, referring to military training missions in Ukraine and the deployment of Canadian troops as part of a NATO-led battle group in Latvia.

As talks with Russia stall, NATO chief warns of a new war in Europe. CBC News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Canadian soldiers after delivering a speech at the Adazi military base in Kadaga, Latvia, on July 10, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Worried about the prospect of war, Ukrainian-Canadians are calling on the Liberal government to do more to help Ukraine through diplomacy and by strengthening its defences.

Last month, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) presented a series of policy recommendations to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Jolie. At the top of the list was a proposal to send more defensive weapons to Ukraine, including anti-tank, anti-artillery, naval and air defense systems.

Jolie has not ruled out increasing military support to Ukraine – an option the federal government has been reviewing for months.

Allies cut equipment shipments to Ukraine

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was left with a vast military industrial complex capable of producing everything from tanks and armored vehicles to aircraft and ballistic missiles. But many sophisticated modern systems used by NATO allies – such as the Javelin anti-tank missile – are not on their list.

When Trudeau met with Zelensky in the summer of 2019, the Ukrainian president expressed interest in acquiring Canadian armored vehicles, which have an advanced design and are built to withstand powerful improvised explosives.

Amid ongoing tensions over Ukraine, some of Canada’s allies have halted shipments of defensive equipment to keep Russia from getting more serious. The UCC pointed to Germany’s refusal to allow the “procurement of anti-drone and anti-sniper systems through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency”.

The UCC also wants Canada to restore Ukraine’s access to advanced satellite data – something the former Conservative government provided for a limited time after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

It also called for more sanctions on Russia, noting that since Canada last imposed sanctions in March 2019, the United States and the European Union have moved to punish Wagner Group, a Russian private security company. .

The European Union accused the Wagner group of human rights abuses in Ukraine and several other countries, including torture and extrajudicial executions.

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