Is Canada at war with Russia?

Is Canada at War With Russia?

Is Canada already at war with Russia? In the aftermath of the Russian invasion , the country sent large shipments of lethal weapons to Ukraine, including rockets, anti-tank weapon systems, machine guns, handguns, and ammunition. At the same time, severe economic sanctions have been adopted against Russia because “we cannot ensure that [Putin] wins the war”, maintained the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly. Should we therefore understand that we are at war with Moscow? Not according to international law, say experts. But politically, yes.

“Canada did not declare war on Russia, and Russia did not declare war on Canada,” said Ali Ghanbarpour-Dizboni, director of military and strategic studies at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston. There is no engagement of military forces and direct clashes between the two. We cannot therefore say that Canada is at war on the legal level, underlines the professor.

A reading shared by Jocelyn Coulon, researcher at the Center for International Studies and Research at the University of Montreal (CERIUM). “A declaration of war is a process. We notify another country that we are at war with it,” he said.

But politically, Canada is indeed already at war with Russia, the two researchers agree. “We are at war because we supply arms to the country that is under attack and we adopt very strong sanctions. But you have to put the term “war” in quotation marks,” explains Jocelyn Coulon.

A precaution that Ali Ghanbarpour-Dizboni also takes. “Politically, we are at war, but we have to be careful. This is not a hot war, but rather an intense cold war. »

Canada is also stepping up precautions to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia, he notes. The Chief of the Defense Staff, General Wayne Eyre, has banned all Canadian military personnel — including those on furlough or furlough — from volunteering to fight alongside the Ukrainians. Canada moved its 250 military instructors who were in Ukraine at the time of the invasion to Poland. And the country, together with its NATO allies, refuses to close Ukrainian airspace .

“These are messages that Canada is sending to affirm that it is not in direct confrontation with Russia,” said Ali Ghanbarpour-Dizboni, adding that the country is instead choosing to use “aggressive coercive diplomacy” to convince Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukrainian territory.

Blurred line

But for Ukrainian MP Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, this is a decoy. “It’s a miscalculation. Canada and Russia are already at war, she told Le Devoir. The clash has already taken place. »

Interviewed ten days ago from Kiev, the politician recalled that Vladimir Putin had declared on March 5 that the “sanctions put in place [by the West] are akin to a declaration of war”.

The boundary is therefore blurred, and the interplay of perceptions can get involved. “All the countries that have to suffer significant economic sanctions consider it [an act] of war. And it’s not wrong, ”said Jocelyn Coulon. In this specific case, Ali Ghanbarpour-Dizboni is more propagandist words from Vladimir Putin. “It’s an expression of his discontent and also a way of galvanizing Russian public opinion against the West,” he said.

But the contours of war have certainly evolved, and so have states’ interpretation of it. “When the Americans concluded that there was a strong possibility that the Russians were involved in the hacking of the American elections and in the hacking of the Democratic Party website, they did not consider it a declaration of war,” notes the teacher.

In contrast, when the United States assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020, it was a declaration of war under international law, says Ali Ghanbarpour-Dizboni. “Except that the two countries have put this situation under the rug to avoid an escalation of the situation. »

Ready to react

For the moment, the Canadian army says it is ready to react to any eventuality. “It’s our duty to be ready,” explains Brigadier-General Éric Laforest, Director General of Operations — Strategic Joint Staff. Military plans are refined whenever there are changes in the global environment. »

Having helped train nearly 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers in recent years, the Canadian military continues to support the Ukrainian military, including helping to secure its cyberspace and transferring weapons to it. “But for reasons of operational security, we do not detail what has been sent and how the equipment is delivered,” said the brigadier-general.

Approximately 1,375 Canadian soldiers have been deployed to Central and Eastern Europe as part of Operation Reassurance — a deterrence mission to strengthen NATO’s collective defense and demonstrate Allied solidarity.

Two frigates are respectively in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea “to monitor the maritime space around Europe”, a maritime patrol aircraft “helps [the army] to understand what is happening in the airspace above above the Mediterranean”, and land troops have been deployed in Latvia “to respond to any eventuality”, explains Éric Laforest, who himself has been commander of the Task Force in Latvia in recent years.

At the same time, 3,400 Canadian soldiers were placed on high readiness. “What we see now [on the field] is [only] the basis of our preparation. We are ready to respond to any eventuality that may arise […] and to the changing circumstances of the global environment, ”assures the soldier.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.