Trudeau to join UK PM in calling on world to help Ukraine

LONDON — The Trudeau government is poised to back a plan presented Sunday by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step up the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In an essay in the New York Times, Johnson said good-faith international efforts at diplomacy “never stood a chance” and called for tougher economic sanctions and deadlier aid to the US. Ukraine, asking ‘have we done enough for Ukraine? The honest answer is no.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in London on Sunday evening ahead of this week’s meetings with European allies, including Monday with Johnson and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands – meetings Johnson said were part of the response he calls .

Johnson, the British conservative who – until the Ukraine crisis – had taken political hits on parties in his office in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions, will stand alongside the two liberal progressive leaders to talk about how the world must step up.

After pulling Britain out of the European Union, Johnson’s efforts could also be an attempt to signal that the UK is a global partner in the response to the Ukraine crisis, said Senator Peter Boehm, a former diplomat high-ranking Canadian.

Germany, Boehm said, has taken a “very tough line” on Ukraine and is leading from the front of the G7, while the United States is leading from behind and allowing others to dodge. ‘moving forward. He suggested that Johnson wants to show solidarity if not leadership, while for Trudeau, “this is a case of Canada stepping into a traditional role.”

“We are obviously not a superpower but we are a player in this particular conflict,” he said.

The trilateral meeting here on Monday, Johnson wrote, aims to mobilize the “broadest possible” international humanitarian coalition to respond to the crisis, which he says is the first of six actions needed to respond to the war in Ukraine.

The British Prime Minister also called for more military shipments of lethal aid, saying the West must “do more to help Ukraine defend itself…we need to move quickly to coordinate our efforts.”

Johnson’s office said it spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday about the plan, and the British prime minister “committed” to working with international partners to provide more military and humanitarian aid in the face of “indiscriminate attacks and violations of Russia’s ceasefire.

Trudeau did not speak to reporters following him on Sunday, but a senior government official said Canada was already doing what Johnson asked.

Canada’s humanitarian assistance has taken many forms. Ottawa pledged a total of $125 million (including a promise to match donations to the Red Cross) and another $35 million in development aid.

Ordinary Canadians have already donated $46 million to the Canadian Red Cross in the first week of an appeal to help Ukraine. This does not include the federal matching funds of up to $10 million.

Global Affairs Canada told the Star Sunday that donations are being reviewed and the $10 million is expected to be transferred in the coming days.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen this huge outpouring about what’s going on there,” Red Cross spokeswoman Leianne Musselman said.

“To be honest, after a disaster or a crisis, Canadians are always so generous and it has been no different,” she added.

The money will be used “to send personnel, equipment and funds to support the response of the (International) Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Ukraine and neighboring countries”.

Teams on the ground in Ukraine and the region are trying to provide emergency aid to displaced people, for “basic needs such as food, shelter and water, helping people cope with trauma psychological health and operating mobile health teams”. Some of the funds Canada has raised will help support “preparedness, long-term recovery, resilience and other essential humanitarian activities as needed.”

Among other measures Johnson is calling for are even tougher penalties, including “expelling SWIFT from all Russian banks and granting our law enforcement agencies unprecedented powers to remove the facade of the ‘dirty Russian money in London’.

“We have to sue the oligarchs,” said Johnson, who has been criticized for not going far enough on this front. London is home to so many Russian billionaires that it is known as Londongrad.

Johnson defended his actions to date, saying the UK has sanctioned “over 300 elites and entities, including Mr Putin himself”, but added that these measures “will be insufficient unless Europe begins to wean itself off Russian oil and gas that funds Mr. Putin’s war machine.

Some European countries that depend on Russian energy supplies have been reluctant to pull all Russian banks out of SWIFT because their payments for Russia’s oil and gas supplies go through the international transaction system, a senior Canadian official has said. .

Johnson’s essay made three other points – all of them were vague pleas for the West not to be complacent about Russia’s aggression, to be “open to diplomacy and de-escalation , provided that the Ukrainian government has full authority in any potential settlement”. and a call for more defense forces to bolster NATO’s eastern flank as well as offer support to “European non-NATO countries that are potentially at risk of Russian aggression, such as Moldova, Georgia and the Western Balkan countries”.

At the same time, Johnson was blunt: “This is not a NATO conflict, and it will not become one,” he wrote. “The truth is that Ukraine had no serious prospect of joining NATO in the near future – and we were prepared to address Russia’s declared security concerns through negotiation.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland – who has rallied international support to punish sanctions that have affected Russia’s central bank’s ability to use its foreign exchange reserves – said last week that the UK and other partners of the G7 “are determined to continue to increase the pressure”.

She and other Canadian officials declined to say what other levers they have to exert “maximum pressure” on Putin.

But NATO partners ruled out a no-fly zone over Ukraine, as demanded by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and ruled out putting NATO soldiers in direct combat with the invaders. Russians.

However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Moldova on Sunday that the Biden administration was considering supplying fighter jets to Poland to “fill” any gaps in that country’s air defenses if it provided planes. to Ukraine. “I can’t speak to a timeline, but I can just tell you that we’re looking at it very, very actively,” he said.

In television interviews, Blinken has said that the United States is not seeking regime change in Russia, just as Freeland said last week: “Russia’s internal affairs are a matter for the Russians. Canada’s objective is a change in Russian foreign policy. It stops the barbaric and illegal war Russia is waging against Ukraine.

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