Trudeau says he fears armed conflict in Ukraine, but stands firm on what Canada will do

“We stand by diplomatic responses, with sanctions, with a full press on the international stage to ensure that Russia respects the people of Ukraine,” Trudeau said.

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he feared an armed conflict was taking place in Ukraine, but declined to say what Canadians would do to stop Russian troops from marching into Kiev.

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The situation has sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity, as Western governments aim to deter Russia, which has amassed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. Trudeau said the threat of war was high and that Russia would face consequences if it did invade.

“We are working with our international partners and allies to make it very clear that Russian aggression and further incursions into Ukraine are absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “We stand by diplomatic responses, with sanctions, with a full press on the international stage to ensure that Russia respects the people of Ukraine.”

Trudeau called a meeting of several of his ministers on the situation on Tuesday, including Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie, who met with Ukraine’s president on Tuesday. He issued a statement saying that Canada remains committed to the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia could launch a new attack on Ukraine “in a very short time” but Washington would pursue diplomacy for as long as possible, even though it was unsure whether Moscow would really What did you want?

“My guess is that he will move on,” US President Joe Biden said of Putin at a news conference on Wednesday. “He has to do something.

“If Russia attacks it will be held accountable – and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor intrusion and it’s about what we have to do and what not to do, etcetera.” “But if they really do what they are capable of doing… if they invade Ukraine further it will be a disaster for Russia,” Biden said.

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Top US diplomat Blinken said on a visit to Kiev on Wednesday that Ukrainians should be prepared for difficult days. He said Washington would continue to provide defense assistance and would renew its promise of severe sanctions against Russia in the event of an invasion.

A top US diplomat in Kiev on Wednesday said Ukrainians should be prepared for difficult days. He said Washington would continue to provide defense assistance and would renew its promise of severe sanctions against Russia in the event of an invasion.

He said the Russian gathering of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders was taking place “without provocation, for no reason”.

“We know there are plans to increase that force even more at very short notice, and that gives President (Vladimir) Putin the ability, at very short notice, to take more aggressive action against Ukraine,” he said. said.

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Blinken is set to meet with his Russian counterpart on Friday in an effort to negotiate a solution. Russia has already demanded that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO and that the alliance be pulled out of Eastern Europe.

Canada has 200 military personnel in Ukraine, off the border, training the country’s military and about 1,000 personnel in Latvia as part of a NATO mission.

Trudeau’s mandate letter to Defense Minister Anita Anand instructs him to expand the mission in Ukraine, which is currently scheduled to end in March. But Trudeau did not provide any details on that detail on Wednesday.

“It’s an ongoing commitment that we have and we will do it when the expansion is announced,” he said.

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Britain has started sending consignments of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to strengthen the country’s army. Trudeau would not comment on whether Canada would follow suit.

“We have been with support in many different ways and we will continue to be. The decisions we make will be based on what is best for the people of Ukraine.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks during a COVID-19 update in Ottawa came hours after a Royal Canadian Navy frigate sailed for the Mediterranean and Black Sea, deployed to the region as part of Canada’s commitments to the NATO alliance The latest to have a battleship.

Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, said that the six-month deployment of HMCS Montreal is part of a regular rotation of ships sent to the area to serve as a deterrent to Russian aggression since Moscow attacked Ukraine in 2014. Invaded and occupied the Crimean peninsula.

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Nova Scotia Lt-Gov.  Arthur LeBlanc, with his wife Patsy, waves to the crew as HMCS Montreal departs Halifax for a six-month deployment on a NATO mission to the Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, January, 2022.
Nova Scotia Lt-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc, with his wife Patsy, waves to the crew as HMCS Montreal departs Halifax for a six-month deployment on a NATO mission to the Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, January, 2022. Photo by Andrew Vaughn / The Canadian Press

Multiple media reports said Canadian forces have sent special forces to Ukraine to clear the Canadian embassy and prepare for the evacuation of 200 soldiers.

Trudeau did not elaborate on those plans, but said everything was being done to make people safer.

“I can tell you the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Foreign Service, our multilateral partners, we are all looking at a range of possibilities and contingencies to make sure that we are able to keep people safe.”

Conservative MP James Bejan said sending more weapons to Ukraine should be an immediate priority.

“We have to provide them with defensive, lethal military weapons to defend Ukraine,” he said. “The Russian Federation is coming with heavy tanks and artillery. It will be a battle on the ground and we will have to provide Ukraine with weapons to defend itself.”

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Bejan said the government should also detail the sanctions that Canada would impose on Russia and explain how the government would use the Magnitsky Act against individual Russian officials.

“We have to make sure that Ukraine is in the strongest position and Russia will pay the biggest price,” he said.

Tom Lawson, a former general and chief of the Defense Staff, said the prospect of ruling anything in or out of Trudeau’s approach doesn’t make sense, as does sustained diplomacy.

Lawson said Russia sees Ukraine differently from other former Soviet states. He said the two countries have a long-standing relationship and Putin may be ready to go more aggressive on Ukraine.

“I’m not going to apologize to a terrible dictator of a fading superpower, but I think we should look at that relationship differently,” he said.

Lawson said Canada should continue to work within NATO to keep Russian troops within its borders, but not act outside the coalition.

– Reuters, with additional reporting by The Canadian Press

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