In light of recent elections in the United States and the deteriorating security situation in Eastern Europe and other volatile regions of the world, the National Executive of the League of Ukrainian Canadians would like to outline our vision of key priorities in Canada – Ukraine relations in 2017 and beyond. The current unstable global climate requires principled and resolute leadership on behalf of the West and its allies. After the popular Maidan uprising in Kyiv three years ago, Russia seized and illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine and launched a war in the Donbas, Ukraine's eastern region. In response, Canada, the US, and the EU sanctioned Russia and provided significant assistance to Ukraine. Therefore, now is the time for Canada and its allies to increase support to Ukraine given its progress in implementing important reforms and the continuous existential threat to Ukraine from Russia. The Kremlin’s goal is to return Ukraine into Russia’s sphere of influence and once again subjugate the Ukrainian people by taking away Ukraine’s independence. The people of Ukraine have made their choice clear. Ukrainians see their country integrated politically, economically, militarily and culturally into the fabric of the Euro-Atlantic community. The West has no right to neglect or ignore Ukraine. Unfortunately, over 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, including volunteers, have been killed and as a result of Russian aggression will not witness the day when Ukraine becomes a full member of the Euro-Atlantic community. Almost 2 million people were forced to flee occupied Crimea and parts of the Donbas now controlled by Russia and Russia-sponsored terrorists, which puts Ukraine among the world's countries with the highest number of internally displaced persons. Since the beginning of Russia’s aggression, Ukraine has lost control of one-tenth of its territory. In order for Ukraine to get back what belongs to it, the West’s further assistance is crucial.
We would like to draw the attention of Canadian policy-makers, diplomats, politicians and all other decision-makers to the most important priorities in today’s Canada-Ukraine relations: - The adoption of Bill C-267 “Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (the Magnitsky Law) is a crucial step towards defending human rights in Russia and other places. Canada has always occupied a respected place on the international arena by adhering to a long history of principled positions. Respect for human rights and dignity has been of fundamental importance for Canadian policy-makers. Given this honorable legacy, the Government of Canada must continue to show leadership in promoting universal human rights both domestically and internationally. Human rights violators, especially those directly involved in killings, abductions and tortures, have no place in Canada and therefore must be banned from entering our country and/or safely hiding their money in Canada. - Given today’s international geopolitical turbulence, it is of fundamental importance for Operation UNIFIER to be extended past the March 2017 deadline. Canada’s commitment to providing training and other important resources to Ukraine’s military and security personnel will significantly reduce casualties among the Ukrainian Armed Forces and strengthen the performance of Ukrainian soldiers. Since the first deployment in September 2015, Canadian military trainers have trained hundreds of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers in the areas of weapons and marksmanship, tactical movement, explosive threat recognition, communication, survival in combat, and ethics. The training mission has significantly improved the knowledge base and practical skills of Ukrainian soldiers. At the same time, Canadian soldiers have received valuable information from Ukrainian soldiers about Russia’s military tactics. - While provision of anti-tank, C-RAM and surveillance systems is still a priority for Ukraine’s military, it is of utmost importance for Canada to show its leadership by adding Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, which would allow the export of defensive equipment to Ukraine. In addition, the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Agreement should finally be signed in 2017. Both parties would benefit significantly from improved interoperability, increased combat effectiveness, and more in-depth military cooperation. - Sanctions, imposed on Russia by the West in response to the Kremlin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine, have proven to be an effective tool of deterrence against Putin’s adventurism. In response to UCC’s pre-election questionnaire in 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada stated that “A Liberal government will work with our allies to explore the feasibility of cutting off certain Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications network (SWIFT).” We strongly recommend that the Government of Canada conduct a feasibility study and release the findings of this report. The breaking of international laws and rules should not remain unpunished. Since Russia decided that it can unilaterally undermine the pillars of the international liberal-democratic order that guided the world since WWII, it should be ready to pay the price. Imposing sanctions on Putin’s close allies Igor Sechin and Vladimir Yakunin was also one of the promises made by the Liberal Party during the election campaign, which we hope to see implemented in the near future. - Canada should ensure that Ukraine remains a Country of Focus for Canada’s International Assistance. Helping the Ukrainian government implement reforms is one of the most important areas of assistance and cooperation. We ask Canada to continue to provide technical assistance to the Government of Ukraine at no less than current levels, especially during such challenging times. Successful implementation of reforms would strengthen Ukraine’s middle class and allow for more international trade. Trade between Canada and Ukraine is especially important, given the signing of the CUFTA in July 2016. We believe that Canada’s leadership in promoting peace, stability, and the rule of law is of crucial importance. Canada has been one of Ukraine’s closest allies since the proclamation of Ukraine’s independence in 1991. This friendship should further guide Canada-Ukraine relations. We appeal to the Government of Canada to use its respectable position in the G7 and other international forums to further promote Ukraine’s aspiration to build a strong and democratic country in the heart of Europe. By defending the fundamental principles upon which the post- WWII international order was built, Ukraine deserves to be treated as an equal partner and a trusted ally.