Ukraine ambassador wants ‘military support’ in their conflict with Russia

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics
Ukraine ambassador wants ‘military support’ in their conflict with Russia

It's time for Canada and the rest of the world to provide "real support" to Ukraine — military support.

That's the message from Ukraine Ambassador to Canada Vadym Prystaiko, in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen.

"Nowadays when we see the Russians are fighting as the military are doing, we need more support. When we’re talking support nowadays, we’re talking about military support. At least we will need some military equipment," Prystaiko told the Citizen on Thursday.

"We’re asking all of the allies of NATO, ‘Guys, we understand it’s not your war, we understand nobody wants your people to die. And we also don’t want our people to die. But if you want to stop this war right now with a little blood before it gets really ugly, we have to act right now — immediately.’"

According to the report, Prystaiko wants Canada — and its allies — to provide things such as fighter jets, armoured vehicles and surveillance equipment. Moreover, he said that he personally would like to see NATO boots-on-ground.

[ Related: Russia fires back at Canada's NATO delegation over snarky Ukraine tweet ]

Prystaiko's request came on the same day NATO released satellite images of what it says are Russian troops engaged in military operations on Ukraine soil.

"Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine," NATO Secretary General General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.

"This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation."

Talking to reporters on Thursday evening, U.S. President Barack Obama ruled out any military response.

And an email exchange with Yahoo Canada News, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's office didn't want to discuss the specter of military involvement either. Instead, spokesperson Rick Roth said that the government is prepared to "apply further economic and political pressure" if Russia continues its aggression.

"Canada’s response to Russian expansionism and militarism in eastern Ukraine has been swift, targeted and unequivocal," said Roth.

"Canada has played a leading role against this aggression by imposing a broad range of tough economic sanctions against those responsible for the crisis in Ukraine, by helping train the Ukrainian military, by isolating Russia at the G-7, and by supporting Ukraine’s economy."

To date — in addition to a bevy economic sanctions — Canada has contributed over $5 million and "non-kinetic security assistance" to assist Ukraine forces secure its eastern border against Russian aggression.

And Canada has beefed-up its military resources region: In recent month, the Harper government has sent six Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter aircrafts to Romania and 20 staff officers to Europe to aid in NATO planning efforts. Canadian troops have also been deployed to Eastern and Central Europe to take part in NATO training exercises.

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Ultimately, the west's response to Russia's latest provocations could be decided next week during the NATO Summit in Wales. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be attending on September 4 and 5 along with Baird and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson.

One of the last-minute agenda items could be Ukraine's desire to join the group 28 states.

On Friday, Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk announced that a bill cancelling that country's non-bloc status would immediately be sent to Parliament so that Ukraine could resume the process of obtaining NATO membership.

NATO officials have continuously said that Ukraine is welcome to become a member of the Alliance provided that they meet the necessary criteria.

Interestingly, Article 5 of NATO's founding Washington Treaty asserts that an attack on one ally is to be considered an attack on all.

If Ukraine does join NATO, expect a strong rebuke from Russia.

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