The Maple Leaf flag has been raised once again in Kyiv as has flags of the United States, Britain, France and Italy. Countries friendly to Ukraine had closed their embassies in January when a Russian invasion seemed imminent and western governments feared the Ukrainian army might quickly collapse in the face of a Russian onslaught.
The tide of battle has clearly turned in Ukraine. The defenders have driven back the Russian invaders on several fronts. Russia continues to harass Kyiv with artillery but has abandoned the attempt to encircle and occupy the Ukrainian capital. Russian forces continue to inflict random cruelty and property damage in a war whose purpose becomes more obscure each time Russian President Vladimir Putin explains it.
Russian forces continue to inflict random cruelty and property damage in a war whose purpose becomes more obscure each time Russian President Vladimir Putin explains it.
In his Victory Day address to Russian troops massed in Moscow’s Red Square, Mr. Putin repeated his absurd claims that invasion was necessary to remove neo-Nazis from the Ukrainian government. He also intimated that he had to invade Ukraine to stop western countries from invading Russia, though forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have taken extreme care to do nothing that even looks like preparations to attack Russia.
Prime Minister Trudeau clearly agrees with U.S. President Joe Biden and leading European governments that Ukraine is safer now than it was a couple of months ago — safe enough for partial re-opening of embassies. Ukraine has not yet won this war, but neither is it losing.
Mr. Trudeau announced a series of steps that offer at least symbolic support to Ukraine’s defenders — drone cameras to watch Russian troop movements, small arms and ammunition, funding for food supplies for Ukraine and for removal of landmines from ground abandoned by Russian forces, sanctions against Russian oligarchs supporting the war. These steps, though timid, show that Canada is helping Ukrainians defend their homeland.
At the first opportunity, Canada should return the military training mission that was withdrawn to Poland in January for the safety of the personnel. If Kyiv is safe enough for diplomats, it should be safe enough for military trainers.
Sooner or later, however, Canada and its allies will have to face the larger problem of preserving collective security and world peace in the face of recurring Russian aggression. The United Nations security council, which is now the world’s main instrument for united measures to stop aggression, is paralyzed by the presence of Russia with the veto power it inherited from the former Soviet Union. Because of that Russian veto, the UN is powerless to oppose Russian aggression.
Sooner or later, however, Canada and its allies will have to face the larger problem of preserving collective security and world peace in the face of recurring Russian aggression.
Having established his credentials as an opponent of Russian aggression, Mr. Trudeau should join ongoing discussions with like-minded governments about collective security in the years following this brutal and pointless war.
The discussion must include a reconsideration of the structure of the UN body that was intended to uphold peace. It’s likely renovation of the UN will be needed to give the body the freedom to act against Russia, which is a leading aggressor and gives every sign of continuing down that path.
As long as the nations of the world continue to allow Russia veto power on the security council, Vladimir Putin and his successors will keep giving themselves permission to wage war on their neighbours and rebuild the Soviet empire. The challenge of the UN is to find a better way to keep the peace.