Monday, January 16, 2017

Ukraine Awaiting Word From Canada on Troop Commitment

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Ukraine’s envoy has told the Canadian Press news agency that his country is growing concerned about whether Canada will continue its future military support to his country to help it deal with Russian aggression.

The Canadian Forces has 200 military personnel providing training to their Ukrainian security counterparts. The mission will expire at the end of March.

“It has taken us much longer than we expected to discuss the future format of our co-operation,” Andriy Shevchenko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “We still don’t have a formal response from Canada.”

A spokesperson for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan didn’t provide any other details, except to say, “The announcement will come after cabinet has made a decision.”

But readers might recall that it was just two months ago, Sajjan was stating that Canada and Ukraine share the same values and that it could count on continued support. “We are committed to supporting Ukraine,” Sajjan said. “We have our troops there.”

Around the same time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to NATO in eastern Europe, pointing out that his government is a stronger supporter of the alliance in Ukraine.

To retreat on a Ukraine commitment would be a significant development for the Liberal government.

The delay on a new commitment could be that the Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces is trying to juggle the Latvian deployment and Ukraine mission and is still trying to work those details out for both missions.