Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a media availability at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, Friday June 28, 2019. Canada is courting international support for its plan to not recognize Russian passports given to Ukrainian citizens in the parts of Ukraine occupied by Kremlin-backed separatists. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada seeks international support to ban Russian-issued passports in Ukraine

In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in the worst breach of Europe’s borders since the Second World War

Canada is courting international support for its plan to reject Russian passports given to Ukrainian citizens in the parts of Ukraine occupied by Kremlin-backed separatists.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada has presented technical details of a plan to allies attending this week’s Ukraine reform conference in Toronto so they can follow suit.

“We very much encourage our partners who share our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to join us in taking this step,” she said Wednesday.

Canada won’t allow anyone travelling from Ukraine’s occupied eastern Donbass and Luhansk regions to use a Russian passport to enter the country, Freeland said.

“People who are citizens of Ukraine, which is the case for people living in occupied Donbass and Luhansk, are very welcome to apply for a visa to come visit Canada using their Ukrainian passport,” she said.

“Canada, however, considers the issuance of Russian passports to these people to be a further act of aggression against Ukraine.”

Freeland didn’t have details on whether anyone from eastern Ukraine has tried to travel to Canada on a Russian passport. It is also not clear how Ukrainian citizens living under Russian occupation might leave the region to travel abroad.

Freeland says Canada has a duty to denounce the Kremlin’s passport scheme because it represents one more attack on Ukrainian sovereignty.

In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in the worst breach of Europe’s borders since the Second World War. Canada and its western allies view that annexation as illegal. Russia has also fomented a pro-Kremlin insurgency in the country’s east that has left more than 13,000 dead.

Unlike Crimea, Russia doesn’t currently claim Donbass and Luhansk as Russian territory. But many Ukrainian citizens there are ethnically and culturally Russian; if Russia gives them passports and treats them as its own people, it might use that to assert a right to the land they live on. For years, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said Russia has a duty to protect Russians regardless of where they live.

The situation deteriorated further this past November when Russia detained 24 Ukrainian sailors and seized three ships in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea off the Crimean coast.

Last month, a United Nations maritime tribunal said Russia must free the sailors and their ships. Russia says the tribunal has no jurisdiction over it.

Freeland has been hosting the international conference that is trying to help Ukraine build its battered economy in the face of its five-year-old conflict with Russia. Participants include political representatives from more than three dozen countries as well as representatives from the world’s leading financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund.

The meeting marked the North American debut of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a popular actor and comedian with no previous political experience, who easily won this spring’s presidential election, unseating Petro Poroshenko. Zelenskiy met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the two leaders affirmed the shared bonds between the two countries.

Zelenskiy was also trying to allay fears that he was not up to the task of governing given his lack of political experience.

In a meeting with Trudeau, Ukraine’s president spoke about the “about the need for strategic advice on governance,” Freeland said.

“This is a true area of Canadian expertise and we are pleased to be starting right away,” she said.

Canada also contributed another $45 million to its Ukraine-reform efforts, topping up the $785 million in military, legal, financial, development and political assistance it has given since 2014.

Zelenskiy campaigned on the need to bring more reforms to Ukraine, to rid his country of corruption and make it more democratic. He has also worked a breakneck pace, dissolving Ukraine’s parliament and pushing ahead with new elections on July 21, months ahead of schedule.

The Kremlin offensive into Ukraine in 2014 came at a time when it was poised for deeper integration with the European Union and Putin wanted to keep Ukraine in Russia’s sphere of control.

Kurt Volker, the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations and a former NATO ambassador, said Ukraine could eventually resist the pull of the Kremlin if it stays the course and pursues its Western ambitions with the help of its allies.

“Ukraine should be a stable, secure, growing, prosperous democracy that is connected to Europe. And the more that’s true, the more Russia is losing at its principal goal: it wants to make Ukraine a subservient part of a Russian sphere of influence again,” Volker told a small group of journalists on the margins of the summit.

“That’s not going happen. The more Ukraine is successful, the more it is apparent to Russia it is failing in that objective,” he said. ”And then the idea of continuing this war is … pointless.”

ALSO READ: Canada ‘closely following’ reports of attacks on journalists in Russia

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New design sought for community hall in Houston

The District of Houston is looking for a design for a new… Continue reading

Busy gym at leisure centre in Houston

There’s been a healthy response to the mid-June opening of the leisure… Continue reading

Beautiful sunrise

Houston resident, Naomi Himech captured this beautiful sunrise while camping recently on… Continue reading

Have the Churches in Houston resumed service?

Changed hours, different practices amidst the pandemic

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

More charges laid against man accused of killing Red Deer doctor in walk-in clinic

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Teen killer Kelly Ellard gets day parole extension, allowing up to 5 days at home

Ellard is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Lower Mainland woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Most Read