Timothy A. Clary Agence France-Presse Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly at the General Assembly of United Nations, February 22
Beyond the common front that has been able to support Ukraine and stand up to Russia for the past year, Canada and the countries allied with Kiev are now working to ensure that Moscow remains isolated on the world stage. By warning China that there will be “consequences” if it ventures to supply Vladimir Putin. And by trying to convince the countries of the south of the world to free themselves from Russia, explains in an interview the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly.
At the end of a tour that took her from Kiev to New York, to the United Nations headquarters, the Canadian minister assures that “unity is strong” even today within the countries of NATO, the G7 and the European Union. Support for Ukraine is essential, insists Mélanie Joly, to defend “respect for international rules and freedom”. And Ukrainians are feeling that support on the ground, she said, after making a surprise visit there last week where she met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, members of his government and civil society.
Russia, however, seems to be preparing to launch a new offensive against its neighboring country. Which could even benefit from help from China, which is preparing to supply arms to Moscow, according to the United States.
A situation that Canada is following “very closely”, warned Mélanie Joly in interview with Le Devoirthis week, to take stock of this conflict of the last twelve months. “We sent a clear message to China that any form of support for Russia or circumvention of sanctions would not only be unacceptable but would generate consequences,” she stressed, without wanting to say more about these envisaged consequences. . “I am in a hypothetical context”, she justified.
Diplomacy and armament
This risk of a Russian offensive is, however, very real. The Western coalition therefore wishes to continue to arm Ukraine urgently. Canadian reserves, however, are beginning to be depleted and the Canadian government's budget to be tight. “We have the means and we will take them”, Minister Joly nevertheless insists.
An Angus Reid poll revealed this week that Canadian support for this military support from Ukraine seems to be starting to crumble. This is because 57% of respondents said they endorsed the sending of defensive weapons and military equipment and 37% the sending of “lethal aid” (a decline of nine and eleven points, respectively, compared to March 2022).< /p>
See our special section A year of war in Ukraine
“We always work according to the support of the population, but also according to the 'national interest,' replied Minister Joly, suggesting that new announcements to this effect will not be long in coming.
“I am a progressive politician. I never thought that in my life I would say one day that, to prevent a war, to achieve a peace process, a country had to be armed more. But this is exactly the case with Ukraine,” she said on the phone, on the sidelines of deliberations at the United Nations that led to the adoption of a resolution calling for “a comprehensive, just and sustainable development in Ukraine”.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could reveal the dispatch of additional aid this Friday, the day of the first anniversary of the conflict.
Expand and solidify the coalition
To this military struggle is added the diplomatic struggle. While in New York, Mélanie Joly took the opportunity to counterbalance “Russian propaganda” and rally countries in the southern hemisphere to defend the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of States at all costs.
A “narrative war” is taking place in Latin America, the Caribbean and African countries, the minister laments. His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov has just toured the African continent “to influence them in favor of Russia”.
Canada and its G7 partners must now reassure these states, bringing “solutions concrete” to the challenges they face in terms of infrastructure, economic development and food security. And thus give them the means to stand up to Russia, explains Mélanie Joly.
This “propaganda” and “massive disinformation” from Russia is one of the main challenges of the conflict, in his view. “The goal is basically to dehumanize Ukrainians themselves, to be able to commit the most serious crimes against them afterwards.
These war crimes, sexual violence, trauma have caused some fatigue after twelve months in the field. But Minister Joly also noted, during her visit to kyiv, that these psychological scars also strengthened the Ukrainians' determination to win this war. So that all this was not suffered in vain. “This justice will save many of their ills”, explains the minister.
“There is a deep sense of duty”, she draws up as an observation of her third stay on Ukrainian soil since the start of this war. “So the determination [of the Ukrainian people] does not come from the fact that it is in their character to be determined. It is rather that in the end they know that they are in a battle between good and evil. »