Canada urged to put more weight behind Ukraine NATO bid as Russian buildup


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As senior U.S. officials become increasingly concerned that Russia is not bluffing, the former president of Ukraine is urging Canada to become more actively involved in his country’s bid for NATO membership.

Petro Poroshenko, in an interview with CBC News, said the ongoing buildup of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine lends a fresh urgency to the 13-year-old effort to become part of the Western military and security alliance.

He’s urging member countries to offer a pathway to full NATO membership at the next leaders’ summit in Madrid, and he believes Canada, as an original sponsor of Ukraine’s ambitions, has an important role to play.

Such a commitment, which requires the country to meet certain benchmarks but stops short of delivering full NATO membership, would be a strong signal to Russia, Poroshenko said on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum.

Canada’s new defence minister, Anita Anand, who said late Friday she is concerned for the Ukrainian people, was asked if Canada was prepared to go to bat for Ukraine in the 30-country alliance.

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, shown in 2019 at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, says it’s in Europe’s interest for Ukraine to become a member of NATO. ‘Europe needs a secure Ukraine. Europe needs an independent Ukraine from Russia,’ he says. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

“The question you raise in particular is one that I’m currently discussing with our government and our partners,” she said.

Other countries, such as France, have made unambiguous promises to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Canada, which has long been helping to train Ukrainian forces, has already demonstrated such a commitment, Anand suggested.

The current Ukrainian government, led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, pushed unsuccessfully before the last NATO summit in June for a membership plan. U.S President Joe Biden said the country still had a long way to go in cleaning up corruption.

Limited time

Allies are becoming increasingly concerned about the posture of Russian forces.

The New York Times reported Friday that American intelligence officials have warned there is only a limited amount of time to prevent Moscow from taking military action in Ukraine. Washington is apparently working to develop a series of measures, both economic and military, to deter Russia.

Poroshenko said he’s pleased to see that Republicans in the U.S. Congress considered renewed sanctions against the planned Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline, Nord Stream. In any potential Western deterrence package, he said, his country’s energy security needs must be taken into consideration.

Defence Minister Anita Anand addresses the opening session of the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax on Friday. She says she’s concerned for the people of Ukraine. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Even still, the former president, who is widely expected to run again,…

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