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Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada Andrii SHEVCHENKO: “We offer added value for the G7 in containing Russian aggression”

13 June, 2018 - 17:28

Ukraine pinned high hopes on the G7 summit which took place in Canada on June 8-9. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, it was to be chaired by Canada, which has tra­di­tio­nally supported this country. And secondly, it was precisely Canadian efforts that saw Ukraine invited for the first time to a meeting of foreign ministers, which took place in Toronto last month.

Den has already covered (in the article “Alone against Everyone Else,”) the first takeaways on the summit.

We asked Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada Andrii SHEVCHENKO to tell us whether this country’s hopes for the summit were fulfilled, in light of Donald Trump’s controversial statements about the possibility of letting Russia to rejoin the G7, and his revocation of his signature under an already agreed-upon communique.

“I think that the summit was turbulent and difficult, but for Ukraine, its results are positive.

“First of all, I think we have to thank our G7 partners for holding a serious debate on the Ukrainian and Russian issues, both at the ministerial meeting in Toronto and in Charlevoix.

“Secondly, I think we should not underestimate the final document. The communique on the outcome of the summit is extremely important. Its text was agreed upon by all the participants. And the wording we see in this document shows the seriousness of our partners’ intentions. All the things that we asked our partners for have been included there. And it is very good that they are transparently and clearly articulated there. This also applies to the fact that the G7 is ready to expand sanctions or sees it as a possibility, or in other words, it is ready to increase pressure on Russia to make it pay a higher price for violating international law. Another statement confirms support for reforms in Ukraine, as well for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. In other words, all those important and meaningful things that are definitely essential for us have been included there. I think that, having seen them in the text of the communique, we should have no doubt that this is indeed the position of our partners.”

“CANADA WAS THE FIRST NATION TO RESPOND VERY FIRMLY AND CLEARLY TO THE IDEA OF LETTING RUSSIA TO REJOIN THE G7”

“In my opinion, several specific developments should be highlighted.

“Firstly, I mean the extremely important British initiative to create a group that has to interact in counteracting the Russian Federation. And it seems to me that this is very important when we see at the institutional level our key partners creating the tools to contain the Russian threat.

“Ukraine is now in a situation where we need to tell the G7 that we are ready to work with this club. This is explained, above all, by the fact that we offer added value to the G7 in containing Russian aggression. And we need to use it, and that is the contribution we can provide to make the world safer.

“Secondly, I would also highlight Canada’s position on Trump’s initiative to invite Russia back to the G7. Canada was the first country to respond very firmly and clearly to the idea of letting Russia to rejoin the G7.

“It shows that we have very firm and principled allies. And this is extremely important for us. Therefore, it was very important for me as Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada to see that Canada provided a good and confident leadership as it chaired the G7 and demonstrated a clear position on the exotic idea of Russia’s return to the G7.

“Thirdly, the presidency of Canada in the G7 does not end with this summit. There is a meeting of the energy ministers ahead.”

“THE OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED TO US BY THE CANADIAN PRESIDENCY ARE BEING USED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT”

“Of course, we wanted Ukraine and the Ukrainian issue to be discussed at a separate session in Charlevoix, but it became clear in the beginning of the year that Canada, as the presiding nation, had chosen the state of the oceans and environment as the summit’s themes.

“I think that Ukraine has made the most of the opportunity that presented itself at the meeting of foreign ministers in Toronto, where there was a full session on Ukraine, and where minister Pavlo Klimkin had the opportunity to discuss with other ministers all our proposals and all our scenarios that we are working on for the future behind closed doors in a very select company.

“Consequently, in my opinion, the opportunities presented to us by the Canadian presidency are being used to the fullest extent, both at the summit level and at the level of cooperating with the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv, which is coordinating the other embassies of the G7 countries very well. So, I think that this has been very important and very valuable year for us. And that is why I have a very positive impression of the communique of the summit as well as the positive atmosphere and information that we get from behind closed doors.”

How have Canada’s media, experts and politicians commented on Trump’s idea of letting Russia to rejoin the G7?

“The reaction of Canada came instantly, and it was very clear and fast. Moreover, it was a consolidated position of the entire political class, stating that the return of Russia to the G7 and getting back to ‘business as usual’ were out of question. That is why we are very happy with this very good and clear, fast, transparent reaction of Canada. And this is exactly what we expect from our friends and this is what it was. The reaction of other countries participating in the G7 summit was also encouraging. It seems to me that this is a good guarantee that the return of Russia to this format will not be discussed again in the near future. Therefore, if someone wanted to test this idea, check it out, then it seems to me that the consolidated reaction of other G7 countries has shown that this idea will not be accepted, in fact.”

“NOW AS NEVER BEFORE, WE NEED OUR ALLIES TO BE UNITED AND ACT AS A UNITED FRONT”

And how should we perceive Trump’s idea of creating a free trade area between the G7 member countries?

“It is now important for us to see how the situation with the trade war will develop, which America on the one side, and Canada and our European partners on the other, are now effectively plunging into.

“Firstly, this is not an alien story for us. It is important to us because it is a threat to unity between our Western allies, even as we need our allies to be united and act as a united front, now as never before.

“Secondly, for us as a country which adheres to the principles of free trade, it is very important that these principles dominate and prevail in international politics. Therefore, we desire strongly that our allies find a common ground and work under a good and friendly cooperation regime.”

And how justified is Trump’s accusation that the trade regime between the US and Canada is unfair on America, in particular with the duty on American milk being 270 percent, as the resident of the White House has stated?

“I think that it is the approach to calculating that figure that matters here. Possibly, subsidies were also taken into account. But I think this is the case when one plus one is not always equal to two. Everything depends on who counts, on what side they do it and how they do it.”

Is there some progress in our efforts to get Canada to help Ukraine not only by training our armed forces to oppose Russian aggression, but also, for example, by supplying weapons or establishing joint production of certain types of military equipment?

“We are working on some projects that have to do with weapons, and this is a delicate area that does not like publicity. But I can assure you that we have very interesting cooperation opportunities ahead. And as for the Unifier, which is a training mission, it is also now being modified and changing geographically. If earlier it was held in Yavoriv and Kamianets-Podilskyi, now it has moved to Odesa, Kyiv, and Desna in the Chernihiv region. And this mission is changing in terms of its content and essence as well, the training process itself is changing. Therefore, the Unifier mission is intensifying and evolving, and this is a very good sign.”

“FOR THE ENTIRE CANADIAN POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT, IT IS ABSOLUTELY OBVIOUS THAT PUTIN IS NOT INTERESTED IN A NORMAL DIALOG”

I saw Twitter discussions among Canadian politicians, in particular opposition ones, where they opined that Justin Trudeau had finally realized that one could neither deal nor reach understandings with Vladimir Putin. What do you know about this?

“We have recorded no public discussion of this topic. The truth is that Trudeau and his government has undergone a very serious evolution over the years. When Trudeau became prime minister, he had a noble idea, as it seemed to him, to resume dialog with Russia. And it seems to me that Russia did not take full advantage of Canada’s offer to establish a normal civilized dialog. And now, both for Trudeau and for the entire Canadian political establishment, it is absolutely obvious that Putin is not interested in a normal dialog. It took some years for them to understand this thesis. The visit of Trudeau to Ukraine, a very powerful effort of the Ukrainian diaspora here in Canada, which explained literally to every MP what was actually happening in Ukraine – all this has brought a very good result. We now have a very clear and complete understanding by Canada of what is happening in our country, what role Russia is playing, and it seems to me that our two nations have established a complete understanding on this issue.”

By Mykola SIRUK, The Day

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