By TONY SEED
On April 3, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak announced the signing of the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement. The agreement reportedly increases mutual co-operation in the areas of military policy, education, military research and development, as well as arms production.
Sajjan stated that the signing “shows Canada’s steadfast commitment to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. It strengthens the ties between our two nations and helps us continue to develop our rich, mutually beneficial relationships. Canada remains fully committed to providing assistance to Ukraine, helping to preserve and protect its sovereignty through Operation UNIFIER, and to supporting the implementation of key reforms.”
For his part, General Poltorak, previously the commander of the Internal Troops of Ukraine and the National Guard of Ukraine that was hastily formed in March 2014 following the coup d’état of February that year, then began a program of “meeting members of parliament and Senators and touring Canadian Armed Forces facilities such as Canadian Forces Base Petawawa,” a Department of National Defence (DND) release states. The plethora of meetings included Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and “defence industry representatives.”
Details of the agreement are virtually secret. Bilateral agreements are generally not subject to parliamentary scrutiny in Canada. They are subject to the Royal Prerogative and are not agreements that Parliament is allowed to vote on, thus they are not transparent. This one was not even discussed in Parliament, even though it concerns questions of peace and war. Instead, the arms agreement is treated as a private matter between the military forces and arms monopolies of Canada and Ukraine.
The United States and Ukraine signed a similar agreement on September 8, 2016. On this basis, the U.S. set up its Defence Reform Advisory Board within the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence under the command of retired Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of U.S. Central Command. This agency now includes a former DND deputy minister, Jill Gilmore.
Canada is among the handful of NATO countries already arming and training the military and police forces of the coup government in Kiev. According to CBC, Ukraine is demanding more, which is hardly news. CBC cites a briefing prepared for Sajjan last year that says Canada has seen a “large volume of requests for military assistance.”
The latest example was the visit to Canada of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the first Prime Minister of the 2014 coup government, who on May 18 met with Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Yatsenyuk publicly called for Canada to provide attack drones and anti-tank weapons, among other things.
Ukrainian ministers are going back and forth to U.S., Canada and Europe in order to get IMF loans and credits, to sign contracts for modern technological equipment, to conclude technical-scientific agreements. Thy are auctioning off its rich resources, including agriculture; fracking for strategic natural gas and oil exploration in the Black Sea, large resources of which are already known or may be discovered there; and the exploitation of its own labour power. The developed arms industry is on the auction block. They are openly begging Canada and the NATO bloc for modern lethal weapons of greater firepower and range for its armed forces, especially for urban combat, and to get a leg up in the global arms trade, this time as the “partner” of NATO.
Ukraine’s armed forces include not only of regular Ukrainian troops but irregular battalions financed by oligarchs consisting of neo-Nazis, U.S. and other private military forces, and ex-Israel Defense Force personnel.
Canada has supplied the coup government with some $18 million in just two years for what it perversely calls “non-lethal weapons.” In parallel, it assists so-called NGOs such as Armiya (Army) SOS backed by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which has been granted official charitable status and openly delivers lethal weapons to the frontline fascist militias integrated into the National Guard of Ukraine, as even the media admits. There are credible reports of clandestine shipments of arms from NATO countries, including Canada, and that NATO has supplied the Kiev regime with deadly cluster bombs that are being used against the civilian population of the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government established through the coup d’état. According to the Poroshenko government and the media, what is decisive to settling the conflict in Ukraine are the quality and firepower of modern weapons and not politics, the justice of the cause, the rule of law or the principles of international law.
CBC further reports in an equivocal manner that Global Affairs studied a request from the former Harper government in order to leave its hands free as to “whether to add Ukraine to Canada’s automatic firearms country control list, which would allow Canadian exporters to sell the country so-called prohibited weapons.”
The bright minds of Global Affairs Canada “studied the request and conducted consultations for almost two years without coming to a conclusion.” This clumsy guile is an inadvertent confession that the “prohibited weapons” demanded are not for defensive purposes, are not “under civilian control.” It leaves in the shade what are the “prohibited weapons” and which forces would actually be using the “prohibited weapons” – and against whom.
This is scandalous. It is deceit, nonsense and an insult to all Canadians. The defence agreement is a means to further turn Ukraine into a place d’armes, while accelerating the militarization of the socialized economy of Canada for the profit of huge, private, mainly U.S.-owned arms monopolies.
An arms agreement with a government that openly declares that it is at war is tantamount to a declaration by Ottawa that it is a belligerent on one side of a civil conflict that is arming itself at a feverish space, devoting almost six per cent of its national budget to the military.
Since 1993, thousands of U.S., British and Canadian troops and police have been deployed to Ukraine to train its armed forces as well as to mount joint infantry and naval exercises. At the same time the Trudeau Liberal government talks about “political dialogue,” peace, an adherence to the Minsk Accords (which in fact prohibit foreign soldiers on Ukrainian soil), and a Ukraine “on the path to democracy” in the comic opera of Chrystia Freeland.
The arrangements for a new arms agreement together with its extension of military training for another two years indicate this demagoguery is deception: the Trudeau government is not prepared to participate in political negotiations to put an end to that war, a war that has brought suffering to millions of Ukrainians. All the justifications of these empire-builders amount to pragmatic assertions of any means to the end and must not pass.
Hands Off Ukraine!
- See Sam Heaton, “Undisclosed Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Agreement,” TML Weekly, March 25, 2017, No. 10.
- Murray Brewster, “Defence deal could open the door to weapons sales to Ukraine,” CBC News, April 5, 2017.
- On March 10, 2017, TASS reported a statement from Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova who said, “according to the information that we have, Canada has begun to supply the Ukrainian military with ammunition that is sure to be delivered to the conflict zone.”
First published in TML Weekly, May 20, 2017 – No. 18