Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 23.04.2018
On Sunday, April 22, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations plus Ukraine sat down, on two occasions, to talk about Russia. Russia was pointedly not invited to taint the conversation with its lies. There was a lot of truth-telling and real-talk about Putin’s War against the West.
Russia has been invading Europe in Ukraine since early in 2014. No question is more important to answer for the sake of international peace and security than: “How do we stop Putin?”
Canada holds the Presidency of the G7 for 2018, and will host a meeting of the leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Canada on June 8th and 9th at Charlevoix, Quebec. The Canadian government is setting the agenda for the G7, and has made helping Ukraine and addressing Russian aggression a priority.
This weekend there has been a G7 foreign ministers meeting ongoing in Toronto. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, invited her Ukrainian counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, to attend and to bring his concerns to his peers. The first event of April 22 was a brunch at Minister Freeland’s private residence in Toronto. Ukrainian foreign minister Klimkin was in attendance, and he sat across the table from Federica Mogheri, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and also Vice President of the EU Commission. Minister Klimkin urged his colleagues to take a strong and unified stand against Russia’s efforts to destabilize democracy through election interference and cyber warfare. Minister Klimkin pointed out in an interview with The Canadian Press that Ukraine is a proving ground for Russia’s war against the West: “Ukraine is perceived by many and also by Russia as a sort of test range for testing Russian nonconventional warfare — hybrid war.” He made the argument that, by helping Ukraine, democratic Western countries would be helping themselves: “Fighting along with Ukraine would give an immense asset to the whole democratic community in the sense of understanding Russian efforts to destabilize the western world.”
Minister Freeland invited Minister Klimkin to the brunch precisely so that her G7 colleagues could hear these views. The event was closed to the press, to allow for what diplomats call “free and frank” discussions to take place. It must be brought home that Russia is at war with the West and that Ukraine is on the front line of a wider war. Putin’s War is the reality that the G7 plus Ukraine must face. For example, while the foreign ministers were flying to Toronto on Friday, April 20, Russian armed forces were launching Grad rockets at Lebedynske, Ukraine from Russia-invaded and occupied Donetsk region. While the foreign ministers were holding their first meetings on Saturday, April 21, Russian armed forces were shooting with tanks at Pavlopil and Pischevyk, Ukraine. On the day of the brunch, Sunday, April 22, Russian invader-occupiers committed 30 violations of the Minsk Agreement ceasefire.
There was a working lunch for the foreign ministers on Sunday, with the key topics being stated baldly as: “Russia, Ukraine.” This event was also closed to the media.
Canadian diplomacy gave the opening, and Ukrainian diplomacy ran with it. Minister Freeland and Minister Klimkin correctly put the emphasis on Russia as a disruptor of democracy, the rule of law, and contract-abiding trade and economics. This is where the G7 can be most effective. Russia needs the tacit support of the world’s most powerful industrialized economies to fuel its wars of aggression and to enrich its oligarchy. The Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate needs London and Zurich and New York and a host of other Western cities for money laundering, fraud, bribery, and graft. Truly cutting off the money lifeline would stop Russian aggression in heartbeat. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and the G7 plus Ukraine is a natural forum to find the way to stop Putin.