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Ukraine getting Canada’s help in selling peace plan to skeptical states

Ottawa gearing up for a diplomatic push to get world to endorse Kyiv’s vision of an end to the war
Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly, left, and Ukrainian ambassador to Canada Yuliya Kovaliv take part in an event to mark Ukraine Independence Day in Ottawa on Thursday, August 24, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Canada aims to heed a new call from Ukraine to help it sell a peace plan with Russia to developing countries who have taken a neutral stance on Moscow’s invasion.

Ottawa says it is gearing up for a diplomatic push on multiple continents, to get the world to endorse Kyiv’s vision of an end to the war, through a plan that includes a full restoration of all Ukraine’s territory and a war-crimes tribunal.

“Canada has the diplomatic muscle to achieve the task of gathering a broad coalition in support of the peace formula,” Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday.

He was speaking in a video presented at a closed-door breakfast meeting of foreign ambassadors, to which The Canadian Press was invited.

Kuleba is also asking Ottawa to increase its anti-landmine support and extend military funding beyond the next year.

“We’re talking, among other things, about putting down on paper a multi-year military support program,” Kuleba said.

“And given the scale of mine contamination, we kindly ask you provide more assistance in this field.”

His comments came at a meeting Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly convened to mark Ukraine’s independence day, which featured Ukrainian ambassador to Canada Yuliya Kovaliv.

“It is essential that we strengthen and rebuild Ukraine to make sure that Russia will not try to invade again,” Joly told foreign ambassadors gathered at Global Affairs Canada headquarters.

“We will be supporting the peace plan. We will bring also — through our diplomatic corps in all the capitals we’re present in — our way to bring many countries along,” she said.

Joly argued Russia’s invasion is to blame for sending food costs spiralling across the globe. She noted that has only gotten worse with Moscow pulling out of a deal to allow grain shipments from Ukraine.

“What we’re talking about is how can we prevent this becoming an international conflict, and so there’s a lot at stake here,” she said, while demanding accountability for Russia.

The breakfast was attended by the top envoys for multiple European countries, as well as states that haven’t outright condemned Russia for the invasion, such as India, South Africa and Nigeria.

The majority of the world’s population lives in countries that have opted against outright condemning Russia for the invasion, for reasons ranging from trade ties with Russia, to a focus on issues outside Europe, to a desire to maintain good relations with Washington, Moscow and Beijing.

Still, G7 countries such as Canada say the conflict is integral to maintaining the United Nations charter, and the club of some of the world’s richest countries came together last month to offer Ukraine a set of long-term security guarantees. Joly said Ottawa would reveal more in the coming days, but she seemed open to Ukraine’s call for a long-term military commitment.

“We know that Russia can always leave, can rearm and reinvade. So we want to make sure that the commitment we’ve shown is long-lasting,” she said.

“We know that arming Ukraine is the best way to get to a peaceful solution. I must say as a progressive, I never thought that arming a country was the best way to peace.”

Kovaliv told her fellow foreign ambassadors that countries stand to gain from assisting in the financing of Ukraine’s eventual rebuilding, particularly if it’s financed by Russian assets. She said that could stimulate jobs across the world and make up for foreign property damaged in Ukraine.

“It’s for the business of many of your countries who suffered,” she said.

Later Thursday, Joly announced the appointment of a new Canadian ambassador to Ukraine.

Natalka Cmoc speaks Ukrainian and has had postings in the country, from human rights to security programming, though her last eight years have been in unrelated roles in federal departments.

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