(Ottawa) Faced with the prospect of a Russian invasion, Ukraine would welcome more Canadian troops to its territory, said the charge d’affaires of the Kiev embassy in Ottawa, Andrii Bukvych. “Very concerned” by the attitude of the Kremlin, Justin Trudeau does not rule out the option of sending more soldiers – but not on a combat mission.
In recent days, Moscow has been accused of massing tens of thousands of troops at the border, raising fears of an attack on the whole of Ukrainian territory, seven years after the illegal annexation of Crimea. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, in fact discussed it with his counterpart from Russia, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday.
The White House tenant warned the Kremlin strongman that if he invaded Ukraine there would be “strong economic sanctions”, while the Russian president demanded – to no avail – guarantees on a freeze on the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a group Kiev has been trying to join for years.
Membership in this military alliance is the keystone, says Andrii Bukvych in his office at the embassy. “This is the best asymmetric response to Russian aggression. This is the best possible option given Russia’s tactics, ”the diplomat explained in an interview.
Obviously, Ukraine would not say no to sending more Canadian troops to Operation Unify, which is to support the country’s security forces. “With the exception of instructors, we don’t need troops. […] We have our own army which will be ready no matter what Russia does, ”says Bukvych.
This is also what Prime Minister Trudeau communicated. “The Canadians who are in Ukraine now are there to train, are not there to fight, and that will not change,” he said in the scrum on Tuesday, arguing that it would be “unacceptable” for Moscow to “launch a campaign” against Kiev.
“We are very concerned about the Russian troops at the borders,” he said.
500 soldiers instead of 200?
Although the Prime Minister has not ruled out the possibility of Canada sending reinforcements – there are currently about 200 troops, including about 50 instructors, on Ukrainian soil – we are not there yet. A government source pointed out to Press that we wanted to let diplomacy do its work.
Nevertheless, if Canada decides to increase its participation in the Unifier mission, “there is certainly work to be done,” says Andrii Bukvych, indicating that the number of troops could drop from around 200 to 500. ” Obviously, it is up to Canada to make a decision, ”he would like to clarify.
In terms of military equipment, Ukraine has no needs at the moment.
But if the conflict were to escalate, and Russia “dares to attack Ukraine once again,” the situation may change, and “we will definitely need certain equipment, including anti-aircraft defense and anti-tank ”, notes the charge d’affaires.
The Russian-Ukrainian unrest was on the menu of discussions by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Mélanie Joly, last week at NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She “asked Russia to defuse tensions” and put an end to “the deployment of Russian troops and equipment in and around Ukraine”, according to an official report.
The Conservative Party seems to be advocating sending in reinforcements.
“Canada has a small training contingent of 200 soldiers in Ukraine […]. What use of force options will be deployed to help Ukraine? MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay asked Defense Minister Anita Anand last Thursday.
We are ready to stand united against any unjustified aggression from Russia. We will continue to deploy multilateral efforts to uphold the rules-based international order, peace and democracy.
Anita Anand, Minister of National Defense
In the New Democratic Party, Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulerice wonders what signal the deployment of additional Canadian troops would send. “We will have to see with our international allies, but [à première vue], to send more soldiers and more weapons on the ground, that has more [risques] to create an explosive situation, ”he said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Above all, it will be necessary to monitor which cards Vladimir Poutine will bring down.
If he does not want to get lost in guesswork, the charge d’affaires of the Ukrainian Embassy in Canada is sorry that his country is being used as a pawn by the Kremlin. “It’s just a tool to disturb the West, to ruin the European Union, to ruin NATO,” said Mr. Bukvych.
With l’France Media Agency