- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

NATO Allies Must Find a Compromise With Russia Based on 'Ukrainian Neutrality', Says Canada's Ex-FM

© AP Photo / SEAN KILPATRICKPeople's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier speaks during the Federal Leaders Debate in Gatineau, Quebec on October 7, 2019
People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier speaks during the Federal Leaders Debate in Gatineau, Quebec on October 7, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.03.2022
Russia on Tuesday imposed retaliatory sanctions against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as US President Joe Biden on the back of rising “Russophobia”. Previously, Russia also declared Canada an "unfriendly" nation for its “actions against Russian companies and citizens".
Maxime Bernier, Canada’s former foreign minister and leader of the opposition People’s Party of Canada (PPC), has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “pressure” Ottawa’s allies in NATO as well as Ukraine in order to reach a “compromise” with Moscow.
Bernier has also stated that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies must back the position of “Ukrainian neutrality”.
Moscow has said that it would cease its ongoing military operations in Ukraine if Kiev authorities enshrine a neutral status for the country in the constitution, which are among Russia's several other security and political demands.

"We must stop escalating and instead put pressure on our NATO partners and Ukraine to find a compromise with Russia based on Ukrainian neutrality, as should have been done in the first place to avoid this war," Bernier said on Tuesday.

Bernier reckoned that the economic sanctions imposed by the Trudeau government against Russia would only lead to exacerbating the conflict, which he said could result in “more deaths and destruction” every day.
Canada, in lockstep with its NATO allies, has sanctioned around 500 Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian individuals since last month.
During a recent multi-country trip to Europe, Trudeau also announced the renewal of 'Operation REASSURANCE', a NATO mission which is Ottawa's largest international military deployment involving around 500 Canadian troops.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits as he meets Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, March 10, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.03.2022
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Bernier, however, decried that escalating the conflict through retaliatory sanctions and supplying weapons rather than aiming for a compromise could also lead to “global food shortages”.
Both Russia and Ukraine rank among the leading wheat exports in the world.
While Bernier stated that the Russian military operations in Ukraine were an “unfortunate” development, he pointed out that Moscow’s concerns regarding NATO’s “expansion” were justified.

“We, the West, encouraged and did a huge expansion of NATO through new members coming from eastern Europe… And, now NATO is at the doorstep of Russia. We pushed Ukraine to ask if it could be part of NATO,” Bernier remarked. “Would you have defended Cuba’s right to host Soviet missiles in 1962? How many millions of deaths are you willing to accept to defend Ukraine’s right to free association?” he questioned, referring to the Cold War-era episode which nearly brought Washington and Moscow close to a dangerous confrontation. “Our policies should be based on hard reality, not on idealistic wishful thinking."

‘Popular to Be Pro-Ukraine’, Says Bernier

Bernier also condemned the fact that the Canadian forces had reportedly been involved in the training of “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine over the last five to six years.
“There are a lot of conflicts around the world, but we aren’t part of that… It’s popular to be pro-Ukraine,” he said.
Canada has the second-largest Ukrainian diaspora globally, with around 3.8 percent of its population having a Ukrainian background.

Bernier also urged the main Canadian federal opposition party, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), to stop demanding an increase in defence supplies against Ukraine as well as more harsh sanctions against Russian entities.

Bernier’s remarks on the Ukrainian security crisis came on the same day Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky addressed the Canadian parliament via video-conference.
During his address, Zelensky reiterated his longstanding demand for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a proposal that hasn't found wide support among the NATO countries amid fears that it could expand the conflict.
Earlier in the day, Zelensky appeared to back down from his demand for member status in NATO, saying that the block's rejection of his country was “true” and “must be acknowledged”.
On 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced "special military operation" aimed towards "demilitarisation" and "denazification" of Ukraine, which followed Moscow recognising the two Donbass primarily Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics.
Billions of dollars in in defence shipments have been sent as aid to Ukraine from the US, EU and other NATO allies so far. Russia has warned that any arms supplies to Ukraine would be treated as "legitimate targets".
Several rounds of talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators have yielded no concrete breakthrough, as of now.
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