Trudeau pledged to support Ukraine, support for the next step to join NATO

BRUSSELS-Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is attending the NATO-Canada meeting to reiterate his broad support for Ukraine, but he did not support Kiev’s move to join the military alliance during the tension with Russia.

The federal government said last week that Canada will continue to help address security threats in the region, but it did not express its full support for Ukraine’s promotion of NATO membership at the summit.

Ukraine’s call to join NATO came before US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first face-to-face meeting in Geneva this week, after relations between Moscow and Western countries have been tense for years.

Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border, Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, and allegations that the Kremlin supported SolarWinds hacking activities have increased tensions.

Ukrainian President Zelensky publicly lobbied to join the military alliance and recently raised this issue in separate discussions with Trudeau and Biden.

A reading from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that Trudeau and Zelensky discussed Russia’s actions in their speeches last Tuesday and “emphasized Canada’s continued support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations”.

When asked whether Canada supports Ukraine in developing an action plan for NATO member states, Trudeau’s spokesperson said there was nothing to add.

Previously, Canada’s Department of Global Affairs did not answer specific questions about Ukraine’s accession to NATO, stating that Canada “unswervingly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and the Ukrainian people”. It also pointed out that the allies decided at the 2008 summit that Ukraine “will” eventually join the organization.

The Canadian government has been an advocate for Ukraine’s accession to NATO in the past.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed Canada’s “strong support” for this move, praising Ukraine’s democratic reforms and the common values ??of the two countries.

At that time, Harper called on the leaders to agree to allow Ukraine to move forward in the process of accession, and promised that Canada would support the bid as long as “the country continues to make progress in democratic reforms and opening up the economy.”

A spokesman for Conservative Party leader Irene O’Toole said in a statement that the party still holds this view.

Alexander Moens, director of the NATO Field School and Simulation Program at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, said the issue is “people want the Canadian government to talk about it more publicly.”

He pointed to the fact that Canada has 1 million descendants of Ukrainians, and pointed out that the country has always been a supporter of Ukraine, including when Russia imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

But at the same time, Moens said, Canada knows it needs to be sensitive.

“Ukraine’s accession to NATO is likely to be Russia’s red line, which means Russia’s dangerous reaction, so there is a lot of caution about how to proceed,” he said.

“The biggest problem here is how to keep the relationship with Putin from getting worse, and at the same time not to discourage the Ukrainians.”

He said it is worth watching to see how NATO handles this matter and whether it is closer to Ukrainian membership, adding that the allies may proceed with caution.

Allen Sens, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, believes that the question was raised out of courtesy to Ukraine, but it was largely “out of the scope of discussion.”

“I can’t imagine anything more provocative than this,” he said.

“This will be one of NATO’s most divisive and provocative dialogues at this time. There are many other things that need to be resolved at this summit, and NATO has many other things to do.”

These include progress in new strategic planning priorities and modernization. In addition, experts said that the focus will be on dealing with cyber security and information warfare, not to mention the challenges raised by Russia and China recently.

They believe that due to the absence of former US President Donald Trump who criticized NATO’s existence, a decisive feature of this year’s summit will undoubtedly be a new feeling.

Roland Paris, professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, said: “Every member of NATO will remember Donald Trump’s call that the alliance is outdated.”

“Allowing Joe Biden to attend the NATO summit and unreservedly express the United States’ commitment to its allies will be an important symbolic shift.”

He added, “The legacy of the Trump era will continue to exist because NATO members, especially those in Europe, all know the fact that the United States created Trump ?Ǫ and can vote again.”

The Canadian Press report was first published on June 13, 2021.

File from the Associated Press.

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