Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed support for a potential United Nations peacekeeping mission in war-torn Ukraine on Friday, but stopped short of committing Canadian troops.
“I think this is a situation where there is definitely a very strong potential role for peacekeepers, and that’s something we look forward to having discussions on in the coming weeks and months,” Trudeau told reporters in Toronto at a joint news conference with the visiting president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.
The prime minister said a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine could help to end the violence there and ensure “people are able to live their lives in peace and security in a way that upholds the principles of international law that, quite frankly, Russia violated with its illegitimate actions.”
Trudeau made the remarks following a meeting in Toronto with Poroshenko, who indicated he would like to see a Canadian presence should the notion become reality.
Trudeau was asked whether he saw a role for Canada in such a mission, but indicated that the federal cabinet has not yet decided where to commit peacekeeping troops.
Last year, the Liberals earmarked $500 million and promised to deliver 600 soldiers and 150 police officers to UN mandated peace support operations.
The federal government has yet to commit to any specific mission, despite a long list of requests from the world body, most of them concerning conflict in Africa.
Earlier this month, Ukraine submitted a draft proposal to the UN for a peacekeeping mission in the eastern part of the country, something Poroshenko’s been calling for, in the Donbas region of the country, since 2015.
Bringing peace to Ukraine
Russia introduced its own UN draft resolution for peacekeeping in Ukraine that would be restricted to monitoring the front line between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian military.
Under that plan, monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe would be limited to escorting international ceasefire monitors around the battlefield.
On Friday, Poroshenko said the only plan that makes sense is for a UN Security Council approved peacekeeping mission that would police the entire occupied territories to ensure that no Russian troops, weapons or ammunition crossed the border into Ukraine.
“I definitely, and am absolutely sure, that this is the shortest way to bring peace on Ukrainian land,” Poroshenko said.
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