CDFAI | 13Dec2010 | Oksana Bashuk Hepburn,%20Canada%20Notwithstanding.pdf

Canada Has it Right

Despite losing the cold war some twenty years ago, Russia is determined to regain super-power status regardless of what it takes.  The policy issue for Canada and other Western democracies is this: how far to tolerate Russia’s aggression in the name of good relations?  And: will it change, if criminal behavior is accommodated?

Evidence of Russia’s lawlessness are overwhelming.  It invades sovereign territory, issues passports to citizens of other states, invades -- then fails to honour agreements to withdraw troops.  It ranks in the top ten percent of the world’s most corrupt states; the only G-20 country with such a distinction.  There’s mischief making in Transdnistria, cyber attack on Estonia, interference in Kyrgyz Republic's internal affairs.  Relations with neighbours are consistently confrontational.  It even uses orthodoxy to spread 19-century pan-Russianism world-wide.

The state, under President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, controls virtually all aspects of domestic affairs. Political opposition in the Duma, parliament is stifled.  Much of the media serves its oligarch -- read government -- owners.  Insubordinate journalists are murdered; the leading independent paper Novaya Gazeta lost five; three others have been killed in the last few weeks.

Business shenanigans are legion; best documented by the lengthy incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s former energy czar. Much of Russia’s wealth is controlled by oligarchs favouring the state those who do not, like Boris Berezovsky for instance, flee.

And matters are getting worse.  Liberties at home are declining and aggression towards neighbours is rising as Russia, once again, pursues its 19th century imperialist  doctrine of  Czar Nichloas I “autocracy, orthodoxy and nationalism”.

Yet, Russia is accommodated by Western powers.

Following the West’s Cold War victory which liberated some 500 million people and 15 states from the concentration camp that was the Soviet Union -- Russia was in no better position to negotiate terms than post-war Germany.  Yet, some -- Stalin’s moniker for Western apologists of the USSR had been “useful idiots” -- lobbied hard to stop the “humiliation” of  Russia and blessing its unilateral claim to a new “near abroad” empire. To this end Ukraine and Kazakhstan were threatened with aid withdrawal if exclusive control of the Soviet nuclear arsenal were denied Russia.  And when NATO membership support was nearing 70% in Ukraine, Western democracies sided with Russia’s nyet rather than admit the largest European country, a fledgling democracy, into its fold.  More recently there was mere consternation rather than outrage as Mr. Putin threatened Ukraine and Georgia with nuclear annihilation were NATO membership granted.

Russia appeasement is alive and well as short-term interests get in the way of principles and longer-term goals. This gets France technology transfer contracts for Russia’s naval fleet enlargement.  Germany’s Angela Merkel -- with roots in East Germany where Mr. Putin served as a KGB operative, speaks Russian at official bilateral meetings and works hard to be on the right side of Russia’s energy policies.  The United States may have a new START agreement, open bases in Kyrgystan, and co-operation in dealing with Iran’s nuclear threat but at what price?

Russia is regaining hegemony in the neighbourhood, gaining ground in Europe’s  security, increasing control of global waters, seeking more trade via WTO membership and demanding respect while expanding its criminal empire.  Cold War victors applaud -- da, da kharasho -- and throw in the Winter Olympics and the World Cup into the bargain.

Historian Eerik-Niiles Kross reminds how George Smiley  (John le Carre’s fictional character in his Cold War novels) was fond of saying that “bargaining with the Russians tends to result in giving away the Crown Jewels in return for chicken feed.”

Ukraine is a particularly fine gem.  The largest country in Europe, with outstanding assets -- agriculture, metallurgy, aerospace, with considerable Europe reach via  river networks and into the Mediterranean and the Atlantic through the Black Sea, it is key to yedynyj ruskyj mir, the one Russian world, as its current rhetoric has it.

Pro-Russia  President Viktor Yanukovych leads the charge there while the West, in deference to Russia, throws the proverbial pearl to the pigs.  From an impressive near 90% support for independence from Russia-dominated USSR in 1991, Ukraine reverted to a narrow pro-Russia presidential victory in 2010.  Unquestionably Russia was guiding developments there; buying Western hearts and minds, by besmirching its state politics, claiming “Ukraine fatigue” and “political instability” to ensure the results it wanted.  Instead of mounting robust fights, the West caved and Ukraine is, for the time being, sliding back into Russia’s sphere of influence.
The Russo-centric optic is historic and due, in part, to ignorance of the Slavic world.  Canada’s historian Margaret MacDonald underscores this in her “1919: The Versailles Treaty” as Woodrow Wilson and Lloyd George split Ukraine between Poland and Russia.  Nearly a century later that world view prevails: incredulously, as the USSR collapses President George Bush I admonishes Ukraine for breaking with Russia!  Current opinion-leaders chatter about “Russia’s Crimea”, dismissing Tartar autochthons and proposing a return to the butchers who nearly annihilated these people.  In a similar dismissive way, centuries of Ukraine’s incessant struggles for independence are seen as “300 years of Russian rule” thus legitimizing the hope of the czarist doctrine: Ukraine never was, is not now and never shall be.

Pro-Russia thinking is evident globally.  Despite its lawlessness it is a bone fide member of the G-8, G-20 and is being courted by NATO.  And, if Christpoher Westdal’s writings are indicative, more Russia accommodation is in the works. “Make no mistake” he says “…new boundaries of Europe and Russia will be drawn.  … the Caucasus are not European … neither is Ukraine European -- enough.”  And, if history is a measure, the West just may allow Russia’s will to prevail.

The accommodate, appease and abstain from judging Russia by Western standards supporters hail Russo-centrism as homage due to a former power while its energy-dollars and sheer size intimidate the faint-hearted into dismissing its bloody past, ongoing criminality and the potential threat to themselves: make no mistake, Mr. Putin is counting on that!  It is chilling that the West may bargain away yet another crown jewel-- NATO’s Western self-determination -- in return for cooperation in Afghanistan and Iran.  Mere chicken feed?  Delusionary trust?  Or both?

A good predictor of future behavior is past performance.  The United States and Canada, for instance, should continue to have good relations given some 200 years of peace and prosperity.  The future in Russia’s neighbourhood will probably be turbulent unless it is pressured to change.  In the last century it invaded Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Georgia.  There is mischief making in Armenia and Transdnistria, cyberattack on Estonia, interference in Kyrgyz Republic. Gratuitous butchery in Chechnya contrasts sharply to the way Canada, for example, handled Quebec’s independence aspirations.

Russia’s aggression calls for deterrents rather than rewards. Yet in April, Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the New START Treaty to reduce nuclear power of both countries.  Some fear it will ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal cannot overwhelm Russia's  and Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov said Russia reserves the right to drop out of the pact if it believes U.S. missile defence plans for Europe threaten its security.  In the U.S., START is awaiting ratification.  Russia is most anxious this happen.

In this uncertain world, Canada is doing its part.  During the recent visit to Ukraine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper drew heavily on Canada’s foreign policy pillars: security within a stable global framework and projection of Canadian values.  He spoke in Kyiv but his words were heard in Moscow and around the world.  He called for the rule of law, respect for human rights and the importance of free media.  He paid homage to victims of both Nazi and Communist regimes in this blood-soaked land with the message that admission of past atrocities is a deterrent to future genocides.  His performance was statesman like, in the best Canadian tradition, and one which virtually all Canadians are proud to support.  It surprises that some would have him -- Canada -- silenced because such positions are “tailored to suit Ukrainian, Baltic and other Russi-phobe diaspora voting blocks in Canada.”  More.  Dismissing Canada's concerns regarding Russia's territorial claims in the Arctic, as being “…equivalent to bald men arguing over a comb” is perplexing given the suspected massive oil and gas reserves in the Arctic and  Russia’s enhancement of its navy capacity by some fifty vessels and the military budget by 650 billion dollars.

Of course having Russia closer to Canada, NATO, and other Western democracies is desirable and current convergences would be good news were they accompanied with democratization.  The reality is different.  Russia glorifies its bloody imperial past and shows little progress in becoming a rule of law state. It remains a repeat offender, a danger the West dismisses at its peril.

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn was the President, Canada*Ukraine Relations Inc. and senior policy adviser for the Government of Canada.

CDFAI | 01Nov2010 | Christopher Westdal,%20Canada%20Notwithstanding.pdf

NATO Summit: Making Peace with Russia, Canada Notwithstanding

Canadians’ attention is riveted on Afghanistan, but a subject as important at NATO’s historic
Summit this week in Lisbon is its adoption of a new Strategic Concept.

In that key document, NATO leaders will express the North Atlantic alliance’s post-Cold War
purpose, characterize Russia and, by pronouncing on NATO enlargement, clarify the
boundaries between Russia and Europe. With President Medvedev an invited guest, they will
seek a security partnership with Russia, aiming to consolidate peace across a swath of the most
blood-soaked earth on Earth.

Though the Cold War that was its genesis is over (in most minds, but not all), NATO remains
highly valued by its members as a US-backed counter-balance to Russia; a framework for
European unity and discipline; a link with Turkey; a structure for cooperation and partnership; a
vehicle for emergency management, a fire brigade, a posse; and, unspoken, a good way to
contain and integrate Germany within multinational security architecture (alongside EU
economic and political integration). Leaders will have no trouble expressing NATO’s enduring
reasons to be.

As to their description of Russia and prospects for security partnership, there is reason to
expect language and gestures of historic rapprochement. The tone and text of the final
document are likely to be at least as conciliatory as that in the recent report of the Expert Group
chaired by Madeleine Albright (which included our Ambassador in Vienna, Marie Gervais-

The Albright text declares that “Cold War rivalry ... has long since disappeared” and that “the
Alliance neither poses a military threat to Russia, nor considers Russia a military threat.” It does
note that “doubts persist on both sides about the intentions and policies of the other,” but calls
nonetheless for engagement and deeper partnership. Leaders look set to heed that call.

They must also address the neuralgic subject of further NATO enlargement. The Albright Group
says simply that “further enlargement has been under consideration in the western Balkans and
with respect to Georgia and Ukraine” and that “the process for states that have expressed their
desire for membership should move forward as each state fulfills the requirements for

What it doesn’t say is that, though Serbia and Macedonia may one day join NATO, Georgia and
Ukraine, for the time being and the foreseeable future, will not.

The campaign for Georgian membership -- which would extend a security guarantee into the
cauldron of the Caucasus -- came to a bloody, ignominious close in war there two years ago,
with European governments utterly deaf to Dick Cheney’s call (in person from Tbilisi) that they
come help Georgians fight Russians to keep Ossetians apart (against their will) and Abkhazis
under Tbilisi (against theirs). NATO membership would have had us try to do so.

Back on the actual boundaries of Europe, meanwhile, the campaign for Ukrainian NATO
membership had long since been shut down, democratically, by the Ukrainian people. They
know NATO’s not a knitting club, know that Russians know this too -- and know better than to
pick a needless fight. For years, they told NATO’s hopeful pollsters so, dissuading Brussels and
Viktor Yushchenko from ever risking anything so directly democratic as a referendum on the
subject -- and then this spring they elected President Yanukovich, firmly opposed to the notion.

These facts have not yet been digested in Ottawa and several other NATO capitals. The
manifest will of the Ukrainian people and the clear counter-productivity of the provocation
entailed notwithstanding, the delusion will die hard that NATO membership would enhance
Ukrainian security.

Meanwhile, what text on the subject might be agreed in the Strategic Concept? A recent
Ditchley Park conference on EU-Russia relations thought language leaving an open door, with
no mention of specific candidates, was an obvious solution, given that such generality could
accommodate notions of new Balkan, Ukrainian, Georgian or other members.

Make no mistake, though: however innocuous the language, new boundaries of Europe and of
Russia will be drawn. For one thing, the Caucasus region is not European. Georgia must learn
to live with its neighbours. Into the “frozen” conflicts there, NATO will not be drawn. For another,
in this reckoning, neither is Ukraine European -- enough. Its neighbours in Europe are generous,
but Kyiv is not invited to join the EU. Khrushchev was generous too, in 1954, giving Ukraine
Crimea, a thoroughly non-European peninsula that anchors Ukraine to Russia.

Ukraine isn’t called the “Edge” for nothing. It is the edge both of Europe and of Russia. It spans
the ancient divide between Rome and Byzantium. Between Europe and Russia, two enduring
major powers in a polycentric world, Ukraine is buffer, cartilage analogously, with profound
interest in good bone structure and alignment -- profound interest, that is, in good relations
between its neighbours.

It is thus very good news for Ukrainians that prospects for NATO-Russia partnership have been
improving so markedly. Since Obama reset relations, Russia has helped with Iran and more
with Afghanistan. Putin’s apology for the massacre at Katyn has eased relations with Poland.
Arctic disputes have been settled with Norway. Cooperation in missile defence is on the table.
The recession and slow recovery have meanwhile sobered the Kremlin about Russia’s slow
pace of economic diversification, innovation and industrial growth -- not nearly good enough yet
to keep up in a fast world and keep giving Russians better lives. China’s massive, rapid rise and
its more assertive international posture have underlined Russia’s relative weakness and its
demographic crisis in Siberia and the Far East. Vulnerable, Moscow wonders whether security
links with NATO and Europe, paralleling the massive economic complementarities between
European technology and Russian resources, ought not be welcome indeed. What’s more, as
long as it is not too close, NATO can, as it claims, enhance Russian security -- by containing
Russo-phobia in the former Soviet space along its western border, where what Russia wants
and needs is peace.

At the NATO Summit, when leaders discuss Afghanistan, Prime Minister Harper will speak with
hard-won credibility. When talk turns to the new Strategic Concept, though, to rapprochement
with Russia and peace prospects for Ukrainians and others between Europe and Russia, our
Prime Minister’s credibility is undermined by widespread suspicion that his government’s policy
in East-West security relations is tailored to suit Ukrainian, Baltic and other Russo-phobe
diaspora voting blocs in Canada.

Can he play roles comparable to Mulroney’s or Trudeau’s or Pearson’s in their times, trading on
personal relations and relevant security analyses at the top, to promote our interests with
influence? No, not on this stage. In East-West relations, the security of Eurasia, rigid neo-con
antipathy to Russia (reinforced by conservative national media) and a foreign policy narrowly
designed for diasporas have led us to the margins of irrelevance and mischief.

Consider, for instance, the Prime Minister’s visit to Ukraine last month. He spent his time
commemorating no end of atrocities, in avowed aid of remembrance, harping on about his
host’s transgressions (centralizing power! restricting access to information! no kidding) and, to
who knows what end (or Canadian national interest), stoking a sense of aggrieved Ukrainian
victimhood and narrow nationalism. It was to these ends, presumably, that the Prime Minister
exaggerated, more than doubled, the number of Ukrainian victims of the Holodomor -- doing
their memory scant service, surely, with inference that four million were too few, ten million need
have died to make the point. He closed with a rousing, empty promise: “Remember, Ukrainians
... you have friends in Canada.” On the eve of a NATO Summit he knows will not invite Ukraine
to join, such sentimental sloganeering is not sound security policy. The votes such visits may
earn at home cost Canada credibility in other capitals -- where decisive roles of a higher order
are played in such a matter as the security of Ukraine.

In Moscow, for one, we’ve just been hard to take seriously these last five years, what with the
open antipathy in our Last Cold Warrior Standing posture; our stubborn promotion of evidently
counter-productive Georgian and Ukrainian NATO membership; our neglect of bilateral
relations; our new insulting, hyper-intrusive visa questionnaires; our hypocrisy about Arctic
cooperation and the ludicrous spectre we conjure of fighting the Russians for more space up
there (about as remote a real threat to the security of Canada as can be imagined -- and, for the
two largest countries on earth, as inane as two bald men fighting for a comb); not to forget
Minister MacKay’s comic-book alarums about Russian bombers flying “within 24 hours of
President Obama’s visit.” Such nonsense gets noticed -- and does us no good.

After Bush, US attitudes toward the world were recast, its relations with Russia reset. Ours
never were. The world has moved on, but neo-con thought is alive and well in Ottawa. We need
to lift our sights and our game. It is high time we built better relations with Russia -- and with all
of Ukraine.