Trudeau changes tone on relations with Russia after visit to Ukraine, - Globe and Mail

In terms of substance, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first visit to Ukraine turned out to be a message to President Petro Poroshenko’s government that Canada is considering a step back from its all-in position of supporting Kyiv, in favor of a defrost in relations with Russia.

Censor.NET reports citing an article by Mark MacKinnon for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, where the author recalls that Trudeau spent part of Monday morning with his head bowed in front of the country's memorial to the Holodomor and visited Kyiv's central square, the Maidan, where the protesters who were killed during the 2014 revolution are memorialized as the Heavenly Hundred.

As reported, Mr. Trudeau's visits were meant to show that his sympathies lie in the same place as his predecessor Stephen Harper's. Both the Holodomor statues and the Maidan are politicized memorials that commemorate the Ukrainian nation as the victim, and governments in Moscow as the aggressor.

However, the author believes that Mr. Trudeau intends to diverge with Mr. Harper in terms of support for Ukraine. Mr. Harper was Kyiv's most outspoken international ally in the wake of Russia's 2014 seizure of the Crimean Peninsula, and its support for separatist militias in southeastern Ukraine. Mr. Harper told Russian President Vladimir Putin face-to-face "you need to get out of Ukraine," and said in separate remarks that he didn't see potential for co-operation with Russia so long as Mr. Putin was leader of the country.

Mr. Trudeau's remarks on Monday still came down on Ukraine's side of the issue. "We will stand with our NATO partners, and push on, as you've seen, our friends and partners to continue to be steadfast in support of Ukraine not just because Ukraine is a good friend to Canada, but because of the values and principles that we stand for as a country," he said Monday at a joint press conference with Mr. Poroshenko.

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Commenting on the wobbly Minsk cease-fire agreement, he praised Kyiv's effort to live up to its side of the deal and said, "Russia has not been a positive partner." The statement about Minsk, according to MacKinnon, was representative of the Trudeau government's quiet shift on the Russia-Ukraine file: supportive of Kyiv and critical, without being belligerent, towards Moscow.

Mr. Trudeau's visit also included the formal signing of a Canada-Ukraine Free-Trade Agreement that was negotiated by Mr. Harper's government. But the lack of angry words directed at Moscow seemed just as important as what was actually said and signed, the author notes.

He remarks that Mr. Trudeau also appeared to duck the question when he was asked by Mr. Poroshenko to extend the Canadian military's training of Ukrainian troops beyond the current mission end date of March 2017. Mr. Trudeau - fresh from a NATO summit where he signed up to an open-ended mission that will see an estimated 650 Canadian soldiers deployed to Latvia, which also shares an anxious frontier with Russia - said he would need to consult with Canada's allies on the point.

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The columnist recalls that the Canadian mission to train Ukrainian troops has been criticized as "deplorable" by the Russian Embassy in Ottawa. However, Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected political analyst, said Mr. Trudeau was seen in Moscow as a "progressive" political leader who could potentially play an important role in mending ties between Russia and the West. But, he said, any Canadian leader would be influenced by the "big, big pressure" they come under from the 1.3 million-strong Ukrainian-Canadian community.

Yaroslav Baran, president of the Ottawa chapter of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, said that diaspora groups would be disappointed to see the end of Operation Unifier. At that, Mr. Baran said he wasn't worried about the change in Canada's tone towards Moscow under Mr. Trudeau, the article notes.

"We'll see what the outcomes are, but I don't think that reopening dialogue is necessarily a sign that things are about to get cozy and chummy," Baran said.

As previously reported, July 10, Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada Andrii Shevchenko said that Kyiv and Ottawa are going to sign an agreement on military and technical cooperation, and that it may happen as soon as during the visit of the Canadian prime minister to Kyiv.Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n397125