Canada to Train Ukrainian Police as Russia Conflict Worsens

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Canada will send officers and provide funding to bolster the Ukrainian police force, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in his latest show of support for Ukraine on the eve of a Group of Seven nations summit.

Canada will never accept the Russian occupation of Crimea or parts of eastern Ukraine, Harper said after meeting Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday in Kiev. Work continues between the countries on trade talks and visa restrictions.

“I’m proud to be here with you again to demonstrate our continued resolve in the face of the enormous challenge you and all Ukrainians are confronted with,” Harper said after earlier announcing the funding to help train Ukrainian police.

The conflict with Russia is “very high on Canada’s agenda” heading into the G7 summit in Germany, which begins Sunday, Harper said. He called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw all troops, equipment and support for separatists in Ukraine.

“Canada will not, and the world must not, turn a blind eye to the near-daily attacks that are killing and wounding Ukrainians here on their own soil, soldiers and civilians alike,” Harper said.

Poroshenko thanked Canada, and said he spoke Saturday with the leaders of the U.S., Japan and Germany.

“The support by Canada in this very difficult and decisive time is very important for every Ukrainian,” Poroshenko said. “The relentless violation of international norms will not stand without punishment.”

Trade Agreement

Poroshenko called on Canada to issue more visas to Ukrainians, and simplify the application process. Canadian officials who reject visa applications do so for “good reason” and talks between the countries’ officials on the issue would continue, Harper said. Talks between the countries on a free trade pact continue, and Harper said he hoped it would be completed “in the near future” with Canadian negotiators due to return to Ukraine on June 15.

While Canada has sent non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine, Harper said Saturday his nation would only send lethal equipment if its allies did so.

Earlier during his one-day visit to Kiev, Harper announced alongside Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk that Canada would provide funding and training to bolster Ukraine’s police force.

The C$5 million ($4 million) in Canadian funding for a 10-month program, and as many as 10 training officers, will help “strengthen the sovereignty and help the reform effort of a free and democratic Ukraine,” Harper said at a police training academy in Kiev.

The Canadian pledge and visit came as hostilities between Russia and Ukraine flared up once again, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Despite a cease-fire signed in February, there were 500 explosions in the embattled Ukrainian city of Donetsk within one hour on the night of June 4, OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said in Kiev.

500 Explosions

“In the period of about an hour, our observers in downtown Donetsk heard over 500 explosions,” Bociurkiw said. “I can’t remember in all these months seeing that type of intensity.”

While it was unclear who was instigating the aggression, OSCE officials witnessed heavy machinery moving west, toward Ukraine, and the organization’s drones had cameras jammed by “sophisticated” technology, he said. The February cease-fire agreement had included a deal to pull back heavy equipment.

“Both sides now have quite heavy concentrations of heavy weaponry close to each other,” Bociurkiw said. “So it looks like they have not abandoned the military option in favor of diplomatic or political ones.”

Harper met Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk as he began a seven-day tour that includes the G7 summit. Saturday’s visit was Harper’s third to Ukraine since March 2014.

‘Real Values’

Poroshenko called on Western leaders to “stay united” in support of Ukraine.

“The events that have been developing in Ukraine have revealed very clearly who is who in the international arena, who is defending the real values, who is defending the international law, and who has ended up in isolation by ignoring international norms and international law,” Poroshenko said.

Canada and the West should urge Ukraine’s president to “enter into face-to-face negotiations” with leaders in the embattled region, including Donetsk, to end the conflict, Russia’s ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev, told Canadian broadcaster Global News, referring to the Ukraine government as “the party of war.”

The Canadian police funding is to support a “large-scale reform initiative to build a new civilian police force” in five Ukrainian cities until March 2016 and “change the way that police interact with the public,” Harper’s government said in a written statement.

Previous Pledges

Canada has previously pledged C$400 million in loans, C$202 million in developmental aid and sent non-lethal military equipment to the country, the government said. It also plans to deploy 200 Canadian soldiers in western Ukraine, near the Polish border.

“Whether it takes five months or 50 years to reverse, we will never accept that sovereign borders can be redrawn by force,” Harper said Saturday.

Harper is scheduled to leave Ukraine Saturday and travel to Germany for the G7 meeting, before stops in Poland, Italy and the Vatican. He’ll return to Canada June 11.

“The Ukrainian issue will be high on the agenda” at the G7, Yatsenyuk said on Saturday. “Canada is one of the strongest allies of Ukraine.”