UCC asks Standing Committee on National Defence for weapons
February 8, 2022
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The Ukrainian Canadian Congress urged the Standing Committee on National Defence at the House of Commons to support the provision of defensive weapons and the strengthening of sanctions against the Russian Federation.
“Ukraine is under severe threat of increased Russian aggression and needs these weapons now. Ukrainians are not asking anyone to fight for them, but they do need our help to defend their country against the colonial power seeking their destruction,” said UCC’s executive director Ihor Michalchyshyn on February 3.
The call comes a week after Abacus Data survey, which shows that 3 in 4 Canadians support or are open to supporting Canada providing defensive weapons to Ukraine. The number of Canadians who explicitly support the provision of weapons to Ukraine by Canada (42 per cent) outnumbers the number of Canadians who oppose the provision of weapons (23 per cent) by almost 2 to 1.
Michalchyshyn said that it is morally important for Ukrainians to know that they have literal aid for their own self-defense from partners all over the world.
Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence Christine Normandin (MP Saint-Jean, Quebec) said that sending lethal weapons to Ukraine is possible.
“Canada does have some technology available that it could use and could be used profitably by Ukraine, and which could increase the cost of any future Russian military intervention,” she said at the committee meeting on February 3.
“However, this would put Canada into the same situation as the UK and the U.S. In Russia’s eyes, these are states that are supporting Ukraine considerably. And this would expose Canada, potentially, to further intimidation by Russia,” Normandin said.
“If Canada’s ready to deal with what this means, to have Russia behave this way towards Canada, then yes, Canada could,” she said.
Michalchyshyn welcomed the extension and expansion of Operation Unifier, Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, which was announced by the Prime Minister in January. In the long term, the extension and expansion of this critical mission will strengthen Ukraine’s defenses, he said.
“The threat of an immediate Russian invasion grows every day, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces need our assistance now,” he said.
Michalchyshyn said that the returning rotations of the Canadian forces have learned as much as they have been training the Ukrainians.
“They learned about hybrid warfare, they learned about the technology, they’ve learned with admiration about the battles, and the real cost of the war that Russia is waging, because they are talking to these soldiers that have served in those frontlines,” Michalchyshyn said.
The expansion of that mission speaks to the trust and the deep relationship between the armed forces, he said.
“I think we need to understand that the contribution of lethal defensive weapons is a meaningful and important part of our military and security relationship with Ukraine bilaterally,” Michalchyshyn said.
Michalchyshyn also said that sanctioning Russian oligarchs through the Magnitsky legislation is something Canada can do more of.
“No significant Canadian sanctions have been implemented since March 2019, when 114 individuals and 15 entities were sanctioned for aggressive actions against Ukraine, and in the following 32 months both the United States and the European Union have greatly expanded the sanctions against Russian officials and entities much more broadly than Canada has,” Michalchyshyn said.
Michalchyshyn said that stronger sanctions will help deprive the Russian state of revenue with which to continue to wage a war and finance its troop movements. Sanctions will also reinforce a message to the Russian government that the West is resolute in countering Russian aggression.
A series of diplomatic discussions in the past few weeks between the United States NATO, Ukraine and Russia have yielded no concrete results, Michalchyshyn said, nor commitments for Russia to de-escalate its aggression against Ukraine.
“The UCC and the Ukrainian Canadian community believes strongly that now is the time to act to further deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
The position of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is that Canada and allies must respond forcefully to Russia’s recent escalation before, not after, a possible further Russian invasion into Ukraine.
This article is written under the Local Journalism Initiative agreement