Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird gave an exclusive interview to the New Pathway and addressed issues related to the war in Donbas, sanctions against Russia and Canada’s assistance to Ukraine.
NP: Minister Baird, among the most important issues of the war in Ukraine is sanctions on Russia. What is Canada’s position on the third stage of sanctions?
JB: We had hoped that the third stage would not be necessary but obviously the Russian Federation’s continued operations in Eastern Ukraine require us to act and Canada will be expanding sanctions against the Russian Federation. We want them to stop the unrest, the covert actions in Eastern Ukraine and work constructively as a member of the international community to deescalate the situation. But that has not happened and Canada is in close contact with the EU and the U.S. so that we can act as a group to send a clear message that this type of behavior is completely unacceptable.
NP: Is there any deadline for issuing sanctions?
JB: We’ve expanded sanctions more than a dozen times and we are in close contact with both Europe and the U.S., and we’ll be making announcements in short order.
NP: Ukraine has appealed to the West for sanctions against Russia for the unlawful abduction and imprisonment on Russian territory of Nadiya Savchenko. What is Canada’s position with regard to this case?
JB: We are very aware of the situation. Today I’ve met with Paul Grod, the head of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, and obviously this is a new unwelcome development causing deep concern. This is another example of Russia escalating this crisis.
NP: What major areas does Canada view as the most critical for Ukrainian reform and where is Canada prepared to help?
JB: Obviously, the fight against corruption is tremendously important so that the Ukrainian people can benefit from the economy and not a select few. And we want to see the economy grow and trade will be particularly important for that. We would like to work constructively with the new President and the governemtn to expand trade through a free trade agreement. The free trade agreement will be the front and centre of Minister Fast’s agenda in his talks in Kyiv. These discussions did not progress far with the previous administration.
NP: In what ways is Canada helping Ukraine fight corruption?
JB: We offered a wide range of capacity building and support for the fight against corruption and towards public administration. We also consider the association agreement with the EU as a big step in this regard. Generally, I want to reassure that Ukrainian Canadians and all Canadians can count on Canada to continue to be forward-leading and an outspoken advocate for the security and prosperity of Ukraine.