Sajjan Welcomes Peacekeeping Idea for Donbas, but Does Not Commit to Participation

Minister Harjit Sajjan meets the Ukrainian media on November 4

New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan welcomed the idea of a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, but would not commit Canada’s participation in such a mission during a meeting with Ukrainian media at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall in Toronto on November 4.

Responding to a question from Kontakt Ukrainian TV’s producer Jurij Klufas about Canada’s position on a UN peacekeeping mission in the Donbas, Sajjan said that Canada is glad to see Russia coming on board with the peacekeeping proposal, adding that he was cautiously optimistic about its chances.

Sajjan added that Canada wants to make sure that the idea will move forward in line with the Ukrainian government’s requirements, but did not make any commitments regarding Canada’s role.

Sajjan also said that during his recent trip to Ukraine he discussed ways to implement the Defense Cooperation Agreement with Ukraine’s Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak, especially “where we want to have capacity-building training, where Canada has to provide other capabilities to align with where the Ukrainian Armed Forces are going and whether we can assist.”

“We have increased some of the authority for the Canadian Armed Forces not just to be in one area, but loosened it up so that they can go to different spots and that’s actually had a significant impact on the ground,” Sajjan said, adding that Canada is “speeding through the process [of adding Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List] very quickly.”

During President Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Canada in September 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the Canadian government will add Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, which will open the opportunity to export Canadian lethal weapons to Ukraine, something that the Ukrainian Canadian community has long been advocating for.

Responding to a question from NP-UN’s managing editor Yuri Bilinsky regarding how Canada can assist Ukraine with in terms of military equipment, Sajjan said, “There’s a lot that Canada can do” but explained that when it comes to giving military equipment to Ukraine, the question arises of how the two systems, Ukrainian and Canadian, are compatible. Even in the case of simpler systems like vehicles, there are issues of spare parts and maintenance.

“Why the Defense Cooperation Agreement is so important, (is that) it allows Ukraine to have access to Canada’s defense industry. Minister Poltorak and I will be discussing things in terms of where they want to go with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Once that is done, we will have the capability and will make sure that by the time the capability arrives we will train the people up so that they can actually utilize it,” he said.

Sajjan noted that Ukrainian forces are still not using the Canadian mobile field hospital, donated in 2015, because they don’t know how to set it up; they are also not using the communications equipment, donated in the same year, because they don’t know how to utilize it within the existing network.

Forum TV Canada’s Managing Director Stephan Bandera asked whether Russia poses any threat to Canada militarily and what the Government is doing in this respect. Sajjan said that, as a result of the defense policy review by the Government, the decision has been taken to increase the size of the Canadian Armed Forces, especially in the Arctic. In particular, the Government has committed to investing in 15 Canadian Surface Combatant ships while previously there was enough funds for just six ships. More funds are allocated for the new radar systems in the North, as well as for new satellites, vehicles and personnel needed to ensure the country’s sovereignty in the Arctic. The additional funding for the Canadian Armed Forces will exceed $60 billion.

Liberal MPs Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Arif Virani and James Maloney were present during Harjit Sajjan’s meeting with the media and the round table with the Ukrainian Canadian community representatives, which followed.