Canada should not re­new mis­sion to Ukraine Regime change or­ches­trated by United States is not wor­thy of our sup­port

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - DAVID REN­NIE David Ren­nie writes on be­half of the Hamil­ton Coali­tion to Stop the War.

Canada’s mil­i­tary mis­sion to Ukraine ex­pires i n March. For sev­eral rea­sons, it shouldn’t be re­newed.

First, the present Ukrainian gov­ern­ment, in­stalled in a coup or­ches­trated by Wash­ing­ton, isn’t wor­thy of our sup­port. Ac­cord­ing to the BBC, for­mer U.S. as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state Vic­to­ria Nu­land ad­mit­ted that the U.S. spent $5 bil­lion over a num­ber of years to in­sti­gate regime change in Ukraine. (1) She over­threw the demo­crat­i­cally elected Yanukovych gov­ern­ment in 2014 which had less than one year re­main­ing in its term of of­fice and was try­ing to deal with com­pet­ing pres­sures to take a fi­nan­cial bailout from ei­ther Rus­sia, on the one hand, or the Euro­pean Union, on the other. (2) On Feb. 21, 2014, Vik­tor Yanukovych se­cured an agree­ment with Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials on EU eco­nomic as­sis­tance, shar­ing of power i n Ukraine, and mov­ing up Ukrainian elec­tions. (3) The agree­ment was not good enough for U.S. Se­na­tor John McCain and other key Demo­cratic U.S. pol­icy-mak­ers. After vi­o­lent street protests, the U.S. in­stalled a pro-West­ern junta, headed by bil­lion­aire Petro Poroshenko. Ac­cord­ing to the CBC, the Harper gov­ern­ment al­lowed the Cana­dian em­bassy in Kyiv to shel­ter the vi­o­lent street pro­test­ers for one week and one em­bassy staffer to use an em­bassy ve­hi­cle (later burned) to take part in the protests. (4) In other words, Cana­dian tax­pay­ers sup­ported U.S. regime change in Ukraine.

Sec­ond, the agents of regime change re­cruited by Nu­land were none other than gangs of thugs from sev­eral fas­cist par­ties, rem­nants of the very same Ukrainian fas­cists al­lied to Hitler in the Sec­ond World War. They fought sol­diers and po­lice in the main squares of Kyiv and other cities. Poroshenko’s coup gov­ern­ment has the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the only gov­ern­ment in Europe with f as­cists in cabi­net, sev­eral hold­ing key se­cu­rity posts. Cana­dian vet­er­ans might be sur­prised to learn that the Trudeau gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing re­new­ing Canada’s mil­i­tary mis­sion to a coun­try with the same fas­cists in gov­ern­ment that they fought in the Sec­ond World War.

Third, the Ukrainian junta im­me­di­ately im­ple­mented di­vi­sive poli­cies, such as ban­ning the use of the Rus­sian lan­guage and some of the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar po­lit­i­cal par­ties. It seems log­i­cal that Crimea would have been less likely to have voted over- whelm­ingly to leave Ukraine and re­join Rus­sia, and eastern Rus­sian-speak­ing re­gions of Ukraine would have been much more hes­i­tant to seek in­de­pen­dence if a more mod­er­ate and tol­er­ant gov­ern­ment took of­fice fol­low­ing con­sti­tu­tional pro­ce­dures. War and eco­nomic de­cline could have been avoided as well. Ukraine, a for­mer Soviet re­pub­lic (and a prov­ince of Czarist Rus­sia for the pre­vi­ous 200 years) could have sought peace­ful re­la­tions and con­struc­tive eco­nomic en­gage­ment with both East and West and par­tic­u­larly the boom­ing eco­nomic “silk road” trade deals with China. In­stead, seek­ing EU and NATO mem­ber­ship and im­ple­ment­ing dra­co­nian aus­ter­ity poli­cies have only brought Ukraine to the point of eco­nomic and so­cial col­lapse.

A fourth rea­son is the re­ac­tion of the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment to the bru­tal Odessa mas­sacre of May 2, 2014. On that day, over 40 peace­ful anti-gov­ern­ment pro­test­ers were killed and some 200 in­jured when pro-gov­ern­ment thugs set fire to the Trade Union House in which they had taken shel­ter. This in­ci­dent has not been prop­erly in­ves­ti­gated and no cul­prits ar­rested or pun­ished.

Fi­nally, con­trary to the prom­ises made to the last Soviet pres­i­dent, Mikhail Gorba- chev, NATO ex­pan­sion con­tin­ued to the east, along with a con­tin­u­ing mil­i­tary buildup, mis­sile in­stal­la­tions, and war games right up to Rus­sia’s bor­ders. It’s com­pletely un­der­stand­able why Rus­sians feel en­cir­cled by NATO, espe­cially now with the pos­si­bil­ity of Ukrainian mem­ber­ship. We should re­mem­ber that Rus­sia was in­vaded twice in the 20th cen­tury from the West, cost­ing tens of mil­lions of Rus­sian lives and huge dev­as­ta­tion. A ma­jor war, pos­si­bly a world war, could de­velop from ag­gres­sive NATO ex­pan­sion along the Rus­sian fron­tier. Plac­ing Cana­dian sol­diers there makes no sense.

It’s time that the Trudeau gov­ern­ment broke with ag­gres­sive Harper-era poli­cies and dealt fairly and diplo­mat­i­cally with the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion. For this rea­son, it would be far wiser for the Trudeau gov­ern­ment not to ex­tend the mil­i­tary mis­sion to Ukraine and to pull its troops and equip­ment out of all the fron­tier states with Rus­sia. In­deed, Cana­di­ans would ben­e­fit from cut­ting ties with NATO al­to­gether and pur­su­ing in­stead a peace­ful, hu­mane and in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy.

SERGEI GRITS, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Res­i­dents in­spect the dam­age after night shelling on a mar­ket in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, in Au­gust 2014.

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