Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, January 18, 2022 4:28 PM EST
Last updated on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 12:07 AM EST
OTTAWA – Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie says Canada has not decided whether it will help Ukraine’s military with military hardware, as NATO ally Britain said on Monday it would supply anti-tank weapons to the eastern European country. will supply.
Jolie completed her two-day visit to Ukraine, the first leg of a three-nation continental tour that will include stops in France and meetings with EU and NATO leaders in Brussels.
His talks with Canadian allies come at a time when fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine are at its peak in Europe.
“The goal is to ensure that we contribute to their increased capabilities, capabilities in light of the Russian threat and another invasion of Russia,” Jolie told a joint news conference in Kiev with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmitro Kuleba.
“We have heard loud and clear the demands of the Ukrainian government,” he said. “We know it’s important to play our part – and so we’re looking at options and we’ll make a timely decision.”
The Ukrainian diaspora from Canada – an influential constituency numbering 1.4 million in domestic political affairs – has asked Ottawa to supply arms to Ukraine to help defend against a possible Russian invasion.
“It is very important that Minister Joly was there in these last days to hear directly from Ukrainians on the need to provide Ukraine with more defensive weapons,” Ihor Michalchishin, executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said on Tuesday. ,
“Canada should immediately provide Ukraine with defensive weapons, as a deterrent to the growing threat of another Russian invasion of Ukraine, rather than a response to another invasion, should one come. War is more costly for Russia than peace.” Should be made.”
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with some of his key ministers and officials about the situation in Ukraine.
A readout of the call said they condemned Russia’s military build-up in and around the country, as well as Russia’s annexation and illegal occupation of Crimea. He underscored the need for Russia to de-escalate the situation, maintain its international commitments and find a peaceful solution through dialogue.
“Prime Minister Trudeau stressed that any further military incursions into Ukraine would have dire consequences, including coordinated sanctions,” the readout said.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on Tuesday said he is not in favor of arming the Ukrainian military and that targeted sanctions are a better option.
“I am concerned about going down the path of armed and military presence. I do not want to escalate a situation which is already quite tense,” Singh said.
Russia has deployed about 100,000 troops along with tanks and other heavy artillery to Ukraine’s eastern border, but has denied that it intends to invade Ukraine.
Russia has sought assurances from NATO that Ukraine will not be allowed to join the 30-nation transatlantic military alliance, but Canada, the United States and their allies have strongly rejected that demand.
“Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine is unacceptable. Russia is the aggressor,” Jolie said, adding that Canada “stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.”
He spoke after visiting with Canadian soldiers participating in Operation Unify, which is helping to train Ukrainian forces.
The Ukrainian government has pressured Canada to extend military training missions beyond a late March end date, and Jolie suggested that Canada continue to make modest contributions to strengthen Ukraine’s military.
“And therefore it is important for Canadians to understand that our commitment to the professionalism of the National Guard and the Armed Forces of Ukraine is long-standing and will continue to be in the future,” she said.
Jolie travels to Paris and Brussels for further talks with Canadian allies. She will meet with her French and EU counterparts, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Josep Borrell, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Jolie said Canada wanted to work with allies on a diplomatic solution with Russia that would include talks with international organizations such as NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Kiev on Wednesday for talks with Kuleba and President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“The last week of diplomacy proved the strength and unity of Europe against the backdrop of a Russian ultimatum,” Kuleba said on Tuesday.
“The question now is, what’s next? I believe the only way for Russia to prove that it is not actually planning a new attack on Ukraine is to continue its discussions within the current formats. “