Canada on Russia's Annexation of Crimea
Recently a political crisis escalated to the most dangerous since The Cold War. Russian troops moved into the Crimean peninsula with the goal to take control claiming the Crimean population needed protection from the corrupt Ukrainian government. After a series of violent incidents, a referendum was conducted where majority population of Crimea voted to join Russia. Although Russians accused the Ukrainian government for the escalation of the conflict, the main cause was Crimea's strategic geographical importance. Crimea is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea and on the western coast of the Sea of Azov and as such provides quick access leading to Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans and the Middle East. The Dnieper River is a major transportation route that crosses Europe from north to south. In addition, Crimea has large gas reserves and oil fields and serves as a large holiday destination with many resorts and private "datchas" belonging to many of the Russian elite. Prior to the eruption of the conflict Ukrainian government was supportive of the European integration and expressed the desire to become part of NATO, a fact that angered the Russian government that felt it was losing control over Crimea and sparked the conflict.
As the situation in the Ukraine heated up, Canada, the United States as well as the European Union got involved imposing economic sanctions and travel bands on Russian and Ukrainian officials whom the government believed were involved and were the cause of the ongoing crisis(1. CBC The associated press). The Canadian government targeted more than eighty Russian and Ukrainian individuals it deemed to be interfering with Ukraine's sovereignty, as well as the Crimean energy company Chornomornaftogaz, two Russian banks, and others (2. beauvais). The Canadian government is focused on supporting the people of Ukraine as well as their sovereignty and territorial integrity with the goal of achieving a diplomatic solution.
The Canadian government is committed to protecting human rights around the world as well as maintaining peace with organizations such as NATO and the UN that enable Canada to take necessary action. Being a member of such organizations demonstrates Canada's interest to help Ukraine against the hostile seizure of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian government. Historically NATO was formed to develop collective security against the Soviet Union and its communist supporters. In recent years countries of the former Soviet Union have been joining NATO with the purpose of acquiring protection against Russian aggression. As evident with Russia's annexation of Crimea, Russia continues to be a threat to its neighbouring countries, former Soviet republics. Canada's interests in the event are similar to those of NATO which is promoting democratic values, peaceful resolutions of disputes and stability in the region.
Significance for Canada's Foreign Policy
Since the beginning of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, Canada has been supporting Ukraine in three main areas of their foreign policy-providing financial support to allow democratic activities such as elections to take place, imposing sanctions on specific individuals indentified as corrupt and involved in the illegal referendum, and military deployment as part of NATO alliance. Canada has contributed $548 million of assistance in the attempt to improve economic conditions and minimize government corruption (3. Nicholson). Furthermore, funding has gone towards programs that empower the Ukrainian people and persuade them to become more involved in the electoral process as well as democratic agendas. Canada imposed sanctions under the special economic measures act which imposes asset freezes on designated individuals (3. Foreign affairs, trade and Development Canada). The goal of the sanctions is to weaken the Russian economy to the point where they would be forced to withdraw troops from Crimea due to dire economic conditions. As direct cause of the Ukrainian conflict Canada has suspended all bilateral activities between the CAF and the Russian Military (3. Canadian Participation in NATO). Canada is a strong supporter of NATO and is committed to providing global security. The significance of Canadian foreign policy in the context of Russia and Ukraine conflict is the fact that Canada chose to support Ukraine and committed to help develop their economy, democracy and independence while maintaining stability in the region.
1. Press, The. "Crimea Crisis: Canada to Join U.S., EU with New Russian Sanctions." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
2. Beauvais, Edana. "Point: The United States And Canada Should Intervene In The Ukrainian Crisis." Canadian Points Of View: Crisis In Ukraine 2014 (2014): 1. Canadian Points of View Reference Centre. Web. 24 Mar. 2015
3. "Backgrounder - Canadian Participation in NATO Reassurance Measures." Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Assistant Deputy Minister Public Affairs, Corporate Communications. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.