In the face of Russian aggression
On March 18, 2019, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced Canada’s extension of its military training mission in Ukraine.
In her address at their joint press conference, Chrystia Freeland provided a background for the renewal of the Canadian Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine, pointing at Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing Russian aggression in Donbass and the Sea of Azov. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, since then, Russia has been accused of “severe human rights violations in Crimea including: arbitrary arrests; torture; detentions and forced disappearances; as well as the mistreatment of the Crimean Tatar population and the destruction of their historic sites.” Meanwhile, Canada continues its support of Ukraine by means of election observation, investments in combating misinformation and assistance with implementation of various reforms.
“On Friday, in another show of support for Ukraine, Canada, the European Union, and the United States announced new sanctions in response to Russia’s aggressive actions in the Black Sea and Kerch Strait and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.”
Thus, the mandate of the Operation UNIFIER will be extended in Ukraine until the end of March 2022. Canada has approximately 200 soldiers on rotation in Ukraine. And since the 2015 launch of the Operation in Ukraine, almost 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers have undergone the Canadian military training. As reported in a news release of the Department of National Defence, “the Canadian Armed Forces will continue to provide military training and capacity building assistance to Ukraine’s defence and security forces.” In a broader context, it is believed that this Operation also contributes to Ukraine’s reforms and democracy.
The Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed his gratitude to Canada for the extension of the Operation UNIFIER for three more years. “This stands not only as a symbol of support of Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, which is a threat to the Free World as a whole, but also means assistance in training the Ukrainian military,” writes Mr. Poroshenko in his Twitter. Similar thoughts on Canada’s role in defending Ukraine from the Russian aggression were shared by the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin.