Canada is sending special forces to Ukraine amid rising tensions with Russia – National

Canadian special forces operators have been deployed to Ukraine amid rising tensions between NATO’s military alliance and Russia, Global News has learned.

The deployment of a small contingent from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment comes as diplomatic talks aimed at averting an armed conflict in Ukraine have faltered and an estimated 100,000 Russian troops remain stationed at Ukraine’s border.

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Sources told Global News that the presence of the Canadian special operations is part of an attempt by NATO allies to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine and to identify ways to help the Ukrainian government.

The unit has also been tasked with helping develop evacuation plans for Canadian diplomatic personnel in the event of a full-scale invasion, sources said.

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Neither the government nor the Canadian forces would officially confirm the presence of special forces in Ukraine when contacted by Global News, except to say that special forces operators have been involved in Canada’s broader assistance to Ukraine.

“(Canadian Special Operations Forces Command) is part of the wider armed forces’ efforts to support Ukraine’s security forces,” May wrote. Amber Bineau, a spokeswoman for the Special Operations Command, in a statement to Global News.

Bineau noted that Canadian special forces have provided training as well as “instructor and leadership expertise” to Ukrainian counterparts since 2020 – although sources told Global News that the latest special forces contingent, which traveled to Ukraine around January 9, is not completing. education.

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Russia denies US allegations that it is preparing a pretext to invade Ukraine

Diplomatic talks between the United States, European allies and Russia ended last week without a clear path to easing tensions along the border between Ukraine and Russia. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the talks a “dead end”.

In a statement on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said NATO and the US remained committed to a diplomatic solution and called on Russia to step down its operations at Ukraine’s border. But the United States also warned that Russia could seek a pretext for invading Ukraine if diplomatic talks falter, including engaging in “false flag” operations to speed up a conflict.

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The Kremlin has denied the US allegations.

Russia has demanded a guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join the NATO alliance – a demand that both US and NATO officials have flatly rejected.

Canada’s foreign minister, Mélanie Joly, traveled on Sunday for a week-long visit to Kiev and bilateral meetings to confirm Ottawa’s support for Ukrainian sovereignty.

“The gathering of Russian troops and equipment in and around Ukraine is jeopardizing security throughout the region,” Joly said in a statement.

“These aggressive actions must be deterred. Canada will work with its international partners to maintain the rule-based international order and preserve the human rights and dignity of Ukrainians.”

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Canada has consistently supported Kyiv in its relations with Russia since Putin annexed Crimea in 2014. According to the Canadian government, Ottawa has provided about $ 700 million in assistance to Ukraine since January 2014, including the supply of non-lethal military equipment and the deployment of 200 rotations. Canadian Armed Forces every six months to train Ukrainian security forces.

Opposition conservatives have called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to reject Putin’s demands, but instead to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine and Canada’s European allies.

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Aurel Braun, a professor of international relations at the University of Toronto, said in an interview Monday that while Canada’s support “makes a difference”, the West’s key player around the negotiating table is the United States.

“It depends a lot on what Americans do,” said Braun, who is also affiliated with Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Braun said Canada and its allies must continue to support Ukraine – not only from a military perspective, but also economically and diplomatically – as Russia’s goal is to isolate Kiev and present Ukraine as a failed democratic experiment.

“What Mr Putin fears is a successful Ukraine, because if there were to be a successful democratic state emerging at (Russia’s) borders … it would present an alternative vision to the kind of ultranationalist kleptocracy that runs inside itself. Russia, “Braun said.

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On Friday, Canada’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Morgan met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to promise “continued close coordination to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

According to US officials, Morgan also agreed that “further Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in massive consequences and serious costs, including coordinated, restrictive economic measures for the Russian Federation.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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