As war threatens, Western nations have held on for weeks trying to defuse rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Canada, the United States and European allies are scrambling to support Ukraine in the event of an armed conflict, while threatening Russia with sanctions if it moves to the former Soviet state.
The ongoing crisis around the world is being monitored. While Ukraine’s leaders are appealing for peace in their country, they are preparing for the worst.
Here’s how we got here and what’s happening right now.
Why is there tension between Russia and Ukraine?
Since it gained independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has renounced its Russian imperial legacy and forged closer ties with the West.
In 2014, protests erupted in Ukraine when then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who supported Russia, rejected a cooperation agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow.
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Russia threw its weight behind the separatist insurgency spreading across Ukraine’s east by occupying Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. More than 14,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict.
Last year, a rise in ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine and Russian troops concentrated near Ukraine fueled fears of war, but tensions eased when Moscow withdrew a large number of its forces after the maneuver in April.
However, in recent weeks Moscow has deployed nearly 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy artillery across Ukraine’s borders, raising fresh fears of an invasion. Russia has denied that it intends to launch an invasion, but Western nations remain unconvinced.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that the increase in military presence on the Russia-Ukraine border is in response to provocations from the West.
US President Joe Biden has said he expects Putin to invade Ukraine, but Moscow will pay a “dear price” in lost lives and potential cutoffs from the global banking system.
Meanwhile, since the fall of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Canada has supported Ukraine with more than $890 million in aid, including development, humanitarian and financial aid.
For example, Ottawa has given Ukraine more than $245 million in development aid to promote reforms in its electoral and judicial systems, among other regions. In addition, the Canadian government has provided more than $37 million in humanitarian aid to help support access to safe drinking water and basic health services.
Recently, Ottawa announced that it would lend up to $120 million to Ukraine to help bolster its economy during the crisis, which has been crushed by the current crisis. In total, Canada has invested more than a billion dollars in Ukraine.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Moscow is trying to destabilize Ukraine.
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“We want to support the people of Ukraine in the challenges they are facing against an aggressive Russia that has mobilized troops across the borders, which is interfering in Ukrainian political affairs, which is trying to destabilize Ukraine. is using cyber attacks and propaganda.” Trudeau said this last Friday.
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“Canada has been and will be a friend and ally of Ukraine, and we will remain there to support them and ensure that the Ukrainian people determine their future – not Vladimir Putin’s.”
In addition to financial aid, Canada has sent rotations of 200 Canadian Armed Forces members over the years to help train Ukrainian security forces under Operation UNIFIER.
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While Canada considers further support, including arms shipments, the federal government is moving to protect Canadian citizens in the region.
On Tuesday, Ottawa ordered the families of diplomats stationed at the embassy in Ukraine to leave the country. In addition, Canadians in Ukraine should consider whether their presence in the country is necessary, the government said.
Ottawa has sent a small group of special forces operators to the region to advise the government in Kiev and help evacuate Canadian diplomatic staff in the event of an invasion.
While Canada considers further options, the federal government is joining its NATO allies in warning Russia that it will impose further sanctions on Moscow if it takes any military action to compromise Ukrainian sovereignty.
Back home, however, Global Affairs Canada is scrambling to recover after a multi-day network disruption, which security and government sources Global News described as a “cyber attack”.
Sources have told Global News that the government is concerned that the attack was carried out by Russia or by Russian-backed hackers.
What is the current status of the crisis?
While Western nations urge for more diplomacy, they are planning for a worst-case scenario.
Russia rejects Western claims that it is planning an invasion. Instead, it says they are a cover for NATO’s own planned provocations.
In the latest standoff, Russia has demanded guarantees from the West that NATO will never allow Ukraine to join, and that the coalition will halt other actions, such as deploying troops to former Soviet bloc countries.
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Some of these demands, such as a pledge to permanently annex Ukraine, are non-starters for NATO. However, Washington is open to discussing other ideas about arms control, missile deployment and confidence-building measures, Reuters reports.
On Monday, NATO said it was keeping additional forces on standby and sending more ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe to strengthen its “preventive” presence in the Baltic Sea region.
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Last Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva, Switzerland, in what the US diplomat said was a “critical moment”.
Blinken said there were no major breakthroughs, but that both sides were on a “clear path to understanding each other’s position”.
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Russia is now awaiting a written response from the US on its proposals made at Friday’s meeting.
Diplomatic talks will resume on Wednesday when political advisers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany meet in Paris for talks on resolving the conflict, Reuters reports.
In Ukraine, officials are appealing for peace.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Monday that the situation was “under control” and there was “no reason to panic.”
Defense Minister Oleksey Reznikov said that, as of Monday, that Russia’s armed forces had not formed battle groups, “which would have signaled that they would launch an offensive tomorrow.”
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“There are risky scenarios. They are possible and probable in the future,” Reznikov told Ukraine’s ICTV channel on Monday. “But to date … no such threat exists.”
For the latest on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, globalnews.ca/tag/ukraine . go to
— With files from The Associated Press
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