Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 20.11.2018
For over two years Canada has imposed no new sanctions on aggressor Russia. Despite calling itself a great friend of Ukraine, and despite Russian aggression against Ukraine increasing in its scope and its violence in the past two years, the Government of Canada has broken allied unity with the EU and the US over the sanctions regime. Since September 2016 Canada has failed to implement new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities responsible for war crimes and for grave violations of international human rights.
The last Canadian sanctions were against the corrupt Russian officials who conducted the parliamentary elections for the Russian Federation, illegally, on Ukraine’s territory of Crimea. That was on 18 September 2016. But when presidential elections for the Russian Federation were held illegally on Ukraine’s territory on 18 March 2018 the Canadian government refused to sanction the corrupt Russian officials responsible for organizing. Canadian ministers and officials have given no explanation why a 2016 illegal election by aggressor Russia was deserving of sanctions but a 2018 illegal election by aggressor Russia was not.
The EU sanctioned corrupt Russian officials who organized both illegal elections in Ukrainian Crimea.
The EU and the US have warned the Russian Federation to stop what it is doing against Ukraine, and mostly followed through on these warning with limited sanctions when the Russian Federation does it anyway. Canada just gives warnings and has no follow-through.
Along with the EU and the US, Canada warned the Russian Federation not to go ahead and conduct illegal (and fake) ‘elections’ in Russian-invaded and occupied eastern Ukraine. The invaders from Muscovy went ahead and did it anyway, holding its propaganda theatre of sham democracy on November 11. The Government of Canada has been completely silent, leading most observers to fear that Canada, as usual, will do nothing.
Ukraine has called on Canada to bring in new sanctions because of the fake ‘elections’ the Russian Federation has just held in Donbas and also because the Russian Federation is still blocking the release of Ukrainian hostages and political prisoners.
Irina Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian MP and an envoy of the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, met with Borys Wrzesnewskyj, a Canadian MP and co-chair of the Canada-Ukraine Friendship Group. The meeting took place at the Halifax International Security Forum on November 17. Ms Gerashchenko pointed out to her Canadian colleague that the fake ‘elections’ in Russian-occupied Donbas are a direct violation of Article 4 of the Minsk Agreement, which requires local elections be held according to Ukrainian law. The Russian Federation continuing to hold numerous Ukrainians hostage and as political prisoners is a direct violation of Article 6 of the Minsk Agreement, which requires an “all for all” prisoner exchange.
Ukraine has the names. Ukrainian officials are able to provide to Canada a list of the organizers of the illegal and fake ‘elections’ held on November 11 in Russian-invaded and occupied Donbas. Ukraine has the list of Russian officials who have abducted, tortured, abused, and illegally detained Ukrainians.
Canada has all the information it needs to act to strengthen the rules-based international order. The Government of Canada has made a terrible mistake over the past two years by failing to sanction Russian individuals and entities for acts of aggression against Ukraine. Canada has nullified its own Magnitsky law, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, by failing to enforce it against Russian officials who abuse the human rights of Ukrainians in the course of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine.
By giving warnings and then taking no action Canada is eroding the rules-based international order it claims to want to uphold.
To truly stand up for the rules-based international order Canada should do the following: sanction Russian officials who organized the illegal Russian presidential election in Ukrainian Crimea; sanction the organizers of the fake ‘elections’ held in Russian-invaded and occupied Ukrainian Donbas; declare the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” to be Listed Terrorist Entities (as it already lists Hizballah, for example); list the Russian Federation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (as it already lists Iran and Syria); enforce sanctions under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) against the Russians who hold Ukrainians hostage in the Russian Federation, in Russian-invaded and occupied Crimea, and in Russian-invaded and occupied Donbas.