Russian Invasion Threat to Ukraine Imminent: Joly

OTTAWA – Canada’s foreign minister says the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine remains high as cyberattacks undermined optimism earlier on Tuesday that the Kremlin may be withdrawing. reduce its military force.

“The latest information I have is that the threat is real and imminent,” Secretary of State Melanie Joly told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. “Everybody is doing this by the hour. Things are moving; the situation is extremely volatile.”

Joly said Canada and its NATO allies want to see real evidence that Russia has reduced its deployment of 130,000 troops along Ukraine’s border beyond video footage of Russian heavy artillery being loaded onto a transport ship. There are no specifics on where that could happen.

“Weeven thinks this could be a disinformation campaign launched by Russia,” she said.

On Tuesday, after meeting in Moscow with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he did not want war and was seeking to hold peace discussions with the West to defuse the crisis. worst for Russia since the Cold War.

Putin said he was ready to talk more about restrictions on the deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe, as well as other transparency and trust-building measures.

“We will use every means to launch diplomatic dialogue,” Joly said. “But in the meantime, Russia needs to show its intentions by de-escalating. That’s really important.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels that there was no sign of a reduction in Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, but there was still reason to be cautiously optimistic about diplomatic efforts.

Joly spoke shortly after the prospect of a Russian invasion seemed to have diminished with Putin’s latest public statements.

But then a series of cyberattacks hit Ukrainian government agencies and banks, disrupting them.

Joly said she is extremely concerned about cyber attacks and has spoken to her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, for more details.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would provide Ukraine with a $500 million loan and $7.8 million worth of equipment and ammunition. Until then, Canada has remained reluctant to supply Ukraine with weapons, but Joly said the decision was made to join other countries in supplying weapons because of the high risk of invasion.

Canada has also closed its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and Joly has urged any Canadians remaining in the country to leave immediately. Canada has moved its diplomats to the city of Lviv, western Ukraine.

Joly said she has spoken with her counterparts in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania to help ensure safe passage for all Canadian diplomats and their families should the security situation deteriorate further. further reduced.

Russia wants to ensure that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO and that the 30-nation transatlantic alliance will stop trying to recruit new members from Eastern Europe, which the Kremlin sees as its old sphere of influence. Former Soviet Union.

However, Russia’s demand to stop expanding further is unstoppable for the US, NATO and its allies, including Canada.

Mr. Joly said that Canada, along with a number of allies including the US, UK, Australia and Germany have completed a new package of sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine again, after it annexed Crimea. in 2014.

Sanctions are also structured so they will be rolled out in phases, with an initial round and then several subsequent rounds “from day one and then on,” she said.

Joly also said Nord Stream 2, a lucrative Russian gas pipeline project linking Germany, is being considered as one of the possible retaliatory economic measures taken against Moscow. About 40% of Europe depends on natural gas from Russia, but the Kremlin has cut arms supplies in the past.

Nord Stream 2 is fully built, but it’s still not live.

“We know that Europe could be taken over by Russia, in terms of its own energy supply,” Joly said. “But in the meantime, we also know that Nord Stream 2 is not working as we say.”

“In that sense, Europe has a very important tool to deter Russia from further invading Ukraine because of the fact that the pipeline is not flowing.”

On Monday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and her G7 counterparts also warned Russia that any military action against Ukraine would lead to sanctions “with immediate and major consequences for the country.” Russian economy.”

Then on Sunday withdrew Canadian troops taking part in a NATO training mission for Ukrainian forces. Canada has about 200 military personnel on the mission and has previously announced plans to expand and extend the training effort.

The Department of Defense did not say exactly where in Europe the Canadian troops would be redeployed, citing security reasons, but the move is widely seen as evidence that a Russian invasion is imminent. .

This Canadian Press report was first published on February 15, 2022.

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