A year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has Canada done enough to help? – National

At the Cossack Ukrainian restaurant in New Westminster, British Columbia, a jar decorated with the Ukrainian flag sits next to the cash register. A few loose coins sit inside.

Behind the counter, with the smell of simmering pastries and borscht wafting from the kitchen, Naida Yana didn’t solicit donations or thank the jars. She smiles, thanks her customer for their purchase and continues her work.

The 19-year-old college student fled the Ukrainian town of Ternopil outside Lviv, three months after Russia launched its invasion on February 24, 2022. Because she knows that the money she makes in Cossacks will help her get back home.

“With $2 you can pay for a soldier’s dinner,” she told Global News in an interview.

“I can be more helpful here.”

Naida says she has noticed a decline in donations to Ukraine. This is both in the jar by her registry and in her fundraising efforts for Ukraine-based charities in recent months. But she never doubts that Canadians, and the West as a whole, still stand by her country.

“People can only give so much, especially after giving so much in the beginning,” she said. I know they still care.”

‘Canadians are where they are needed’

A year into the war, with no end in sight, Canada and its Western allies stress the need to continue to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia, despite mounting economic costs. ing.

Ipsos poll from January suggests that despite signs of fatigue, people around the world continue to support them. About two-thirds of those surveyed in 28 countries, including Canada, still follow news of aggression closely, support accepting Ukrainian refugees, and doing nothing in Ukraine is like Russia elsewhere. He said he agreed to facilitate an invasion of

But support for refugees has dropped 7 percentage points since March and April 2022, and the idea that ignoring Ukraine will boost Russia has dropped 5 percentage points.

But the poll also shows that Canadians are more willing to support Ukraine than most other countries surveyed. Canada was one of only three countries whose majority did not say they could not afford to financially support their home country, Ukraine, “given the current economic crisis.”

Opinion polls show that sentiment is on the rise in countries such as France, Germany, Poland and Japan.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky receives a standing ovation as he appears in a videoconference to address parliament in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang.

Canadian Press/Justin Tan

Canadians surveyed were more supportive of economic sanctions against Russia, despite the impact on gas and food prices, and even deployed NATO forces to countries surrounding Ukraine.

Even in the Houses of Parliament, unwavering support stands out. Unlike in the United States, where a significant number of Republicans openly question increased support for Ukraine, Canadian politicians from all parties have largely maintained their support.

“Canadians are where they need to be to support Ukraine…which is boosting political support,” said Orest Zakidarsky, senior policy adviser to the Ukrainian-Canadian Parliament (UCC).

Over the past year, the UCC, which represents the largest Ukrainian diaspora outside Russia, identifies approximately 1.4 million Canadians as Ukrainians. This includes military, financial and humanitarian aid, including fast-tracking the entry of Ukrainians fleeing the war and seeking temporary residency in Canada.

Ukrainian citizens fleeing the ongoing war in Ukraine arrive at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport on Sunday, May 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

To date, Canada has provided over $5 billion to Ukraine, including over $1 billion in military equipment and assistance.

The federal government will also pay approximately $290 million in direct financial assistance to Ukrainians who arrive in Canada, and $500 million to essentially allow Canadians to invest in the survival of Ukraine. Established Ukrainian Sovereign Bonds.

“In some ways, Canada was the leader in terms of economic aid,” Zakidarski said.

But he added that Canada needs to do more, including more economic sanctions against Russia and those who support the war and spread disinformation.

He will also extend the Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization (CUAET) program beyond the current March 31 deadline to expedite the immigration process for Ukrainians fleeing the war to Canada and their families. We are asking the government to make a firm commitment.

“The potential termination of the program has raised concerns not only in our community, but also among Ukrainians in Europe and Ukraine,” he said.

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Since January 2022, 167,585 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada. This includes CUAET applicants and returning Canadian permanent residents. Through the CUAET program he has had over 500,000 applications approved.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a statement to Global News that it was “closely monitoring the continued needs of Ukrainians” but did not specify whether the CUAET program would be extended. The store added that some of the approved applicants who have not arrived in Canada have instead chosen to stay closer to home.

“We are working very hard … so that people can have some normality in their lives,” Zakidarski said, adding that newly arrived Ukrainians would file their taxes and speak English. He pointed to local efforts to help learn and get a driver’s license.

What about military support?

Zakydalsky also urges Ottawa to follow the rest of NATO and continue to increase its military aid to Ukraine, including more advanced weapons and equipment.

But experts say that could be difficult in the second year of the war.

“I think what this war has exposed is the limits of the strength of the Canadian military and Canada as a whole,” said Andrew Lassioulis, a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former Department of Defense official.

After weeks of calls from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to send Leopard 2 tanks to Western countries, Canada last month announced that the Canadian military has 112 tanks now, including 82 designed for combat. Donated 4 units.

Defense Minister Anita Anand left open the possibility of sending more tanks in the future, but also stressed the need to ensure Canadian forces have enough heavy weapons to train and defend the country and its NATO allies. bottom.

Rasiulis believes it means Canada needs to keep its remaining tanks to meet its commitment to upgrade the 2,000-man battle group it leads in Latvia into a brigade.

Canada’s armed forces, like other Western nations, are facing a recruitment crisis, with Defense Chief of Staff General Wayne Eyre telling Global News he is concerned about the “collective ability to defend democracy as a whole.” Said there was

“I’m concerned, but I’m also concerned about the wider West,” he said in an interview last month. waist block.

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About 5,000 troops are to be added to the regular and reserve forces to meet growing demand, but instead the military is short of more than 10,000 trained members.

In addition to the shortage of recruits, the Canadian military continues to face long-standing challenges in procuring new equipment, maintaining aging equipment, and tracking replacement parts.

One area where the military does not appear to have recruitment problems is the cybersecurity force, which has been tasked with fighting Russian cyberattacks and other forms of online warfare even before the invasion began.

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The head of its cyber command, Major General Lou Carosieri, told a congressional committee this month that his team had met its recruitment targets over the past three years. This allowed the Canadian military to set up a cyber task force to protect Ukraine from Russian hackers and another task force as a permanent unit of the Latvian brigade.

“The threat is not limited to Ukraine alone,” Carosielli said, noting that Latvia’s cyber army is helping the country and other European allies in the field of cybersecurity.

More recently, Canada’s military contributions to Ukraine have focused primarily on contracts and purchases of equipment from elsewhere, rather than donations from its own inventory. It includes the procurement of over 200 armored vehicles from Roshel and the purchase of American-made air defense systems at a cost of $406 million.

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Rasiulis says that is likely to be the strategy going forward, but puts greater emphasis on further financial and humanitarian aid and strengthens Western support for other initiatives such as prosecuting Russia’s war crimes. ing.

“I think that’s the best place for Canada, politically speaking, where they’re moving right now,” he said.

“Canada is still a peacetime economy. So…money is always the limit. But maintaining good morals is important and cost-effective.”

Back in New Westminster, Naida continued to contribute a significant portion of her salary to some Select Charity In Ukraine, the focus was on military aid and other activities providing direct assistance such as food, clothing and essentials to refugees fleeing the war-torn east.

Any additional support she receives from Canadians, whether it’s the government or the next customer to set foot in Cossack, is greatly appreciated, she adds.

“People have to be themselves. All right. I can’t ask for more,” she said. “We are doing the best we can.”

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