The case for U.S.-Ukrainian cybersecurity collaboration

It is often forgotten that Ukraine is currently the scene of the largest land battle in Europe where the battle for democracy is unfolding before eyes. Amid Russian cyberattacks and militant aggression in eastern Ukraine, the fledgling democratic government in Kyiv continues to work to fulfill the promises of the Euro-Maidan and advance economic reforms.

The West must continue to support our ally Ukraine – for the sake of protecting its democratic future, and defending the principle of democracy the world over. Ignoring Vladimir Putin’s continued offensive of covert military attacks, political pressure, propaganda and cyberattacks threatens Ukraine’s sovereignty and our own American national security interests. It’s no coincidence that cyberattacks against Ukraine increased when the Ukrainian people self-organized to demand an open and democratic society in 2014. Days before Ukraine’s 2014 presidential election, hackers infiltrated Ukraine’s Central Election Commission with a series of attacks that disabled the website in an attempt to sow distrust in the outcome of the election of President Petro Poroshenko.

Putin must go, Donbas must be freed for normalized relations with Russia

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military engagement in eastern Ukraine have taken their toll on Ukrainians’ attitude toward relations between the two countries.  According to a recent study, only 49 percent believe that a normalization of relations is possible in the distant future, while a mere one in 10 believes a swift improvement is possible.  Twenty-four percent now consider that no normalization is possible at all. Russians need not assume any deep-seated antagonism. As recently as February 2014, 78 percent of Ukrainians had a positive attitude toward Russians.  By May of that year, after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and the mounting military conflict in eastern Ukraine, that figure had fallen to 52 percent.  The number of Ukrainians who had a negative attitude had tripled during the same period – from 13 percent to 38 percent. The latest survey, titled “Ukraine – Russia: What should be the format for future relations?” was carried out by the Razumkov Center together with the Democratic Initiatives Foundation on December 16-20, 2016, in all parts of Ukraine, except Crimea and areas of the Donbas under Kremlin-backed militant control. Forty-seven percent saw normalization in relations as possible only with the end of the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Forty-three percent said that this could happen only on condition that military action ends and the Donbas ceases to be occupied.  A smaller percentage – 31 percent – made such normalization contingent on Russia returning Crimea to Ukrainian jurisdiction.

The Great War Memorial in City Park, Kingston, Ontario.

“To the end, to the end, they remain”

My parents took me there when I was a young lad. I recall going into City Park, to the corner of Wellington and West streets, and walking around the Great War memorial reading the names of the battles where Kingston’s 21st Battalion fought – the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Passchendaele, Hill 70. I had no clue where those places were or what they echoed. What I do remember is being puzzled by the statue. A sculpted infantryman stands high on a plinth, gazing upwards.

Russia now says it lied about Yanukovych letter used as pretext to send troops to Ukraine

It is amazing what the death of a Russian U.N. ambassador can achieve.  Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov is now claiming that the Kremlin never received a letter from ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych asking Russia to send in troops to Ukraine.  The Russian prosecutor general recently issued a similar denial.  So what precisely did the now deceased Vitaly Churkin wave about at the United Nations, claiming that it had been received on March 1, 2014, and why did President Putin himself speak of such an appeal from Mr. Yanukovych as grounds for the deployment of Russian forces? The most direct mention of the letter was during an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council. Since this was called by Russia, it is inconceivable that Ambassador Churkin had not confirmed his position and the supposed backing for it provided by the Yanukovych letter with Moscow. Mr. Churkin specifically stated that the letter was dated March 1, 2014.  This is very important, since it was precisely on that day that Mr. Putin asked the upper house of Russia’s Parliament for permission to deploy forces in Ukraine.  This was supposedly “in connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine and the threat to the lives of Russian citizens.”  Permission was swiftly provided. During a press briefing on March 4, 2014, Mr. Putin stated the following: ”What could serve as grounds for the use of the armed forces?  This is, of course, an extreme situation, simply extreme.

Canada’s unwavering support for Ukraine

We recently announced that the government of Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, Operation UNIFIER, will continue for another two years. By renewing this mission, we not only continue to build upon the strong economic, social, military and cultural ties between Canada and Ukraine, but we publicly send a message of deterrence to Russia. Canada is proud to continue to be at the forefront of the international community’s support to the people of Ukraine as they strive for security, sovereignty and stability. Over the past year, Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on Op UNIFIER have focused on transferring professional soldier skills to members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Over 3,200 Ukrainian soldiers have received training in combat support, weapons and marksmanship, explosive threat recognition, military policing and combat first aid.

Fake news and Chrystia Freeland

I’ve heard it all before. It was fake news then and it’s still fake now. Allegations about supposed “Nazis in Canada” – the most recent regurgitation targeting our minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland – have been around for decades. Understandably, just after the war’s end, Jewish Canadians were alarmed at the prospect of “Ukrainian Nazis” escaping justice by posing as displaced persons. In response, the Liberal government initiated high-level inquiries ensuring no such villains resettled in our midst.

REACTION: Why certain critics are bitter over “Bitter Harvest”

Unambiguous faith in God and love of country are invariably treated with skeptical bemusement and even contempt in Hollywood, so some lukewarm response was not unexpected over “Bitter Harvest’s” straightforward narrative. Even so, the mean-spirited, derisive tone of certain film critics was surprising, despite their collective breast-beating that the tragic Holodomor story deserves to be told. But if so, then why all their attempts to diminish or even controvert the Holodomor? A smokescreen of “artistic/technical shortcomings” was erected by some reviewers to conceal what they actually disliked about the film. Many voiced nostalgia for a kinder, gentler Stalin and “more subdued” Bolsheviks.

The lost instruments of a lost Ukraine

For the first time in 100 years, the original bandura, kobza and torban will be heard. Most people of Ukrainian descent, at some point or another, have had the chance to hear Ukraine’s beloved national instrument, the bandura. Many people agree that the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus, originally from Poltava and Kyiv, was considered to be the leader of diaspora culture, after its relocation to North America after World War II. Over the past several decades we’ve also had the chance to hear many virtuoso, solo bandurists not just from the diaspora, but more recently from Ukraine itself. We’ve had the chance to hear several varieties of the bandura, including the Kharkivska, as initially developed by Hnat Khotkevych, and then later by the Honcharenko brothers of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus.

Interview: U.S. lawmakers call for lethal weapons for Ukraine

KYIV – Two U.S. lawmakers say the time has come for the United States to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons to better defend itself against Moscow-backed separatists, saying that a “confrontational” Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no sign of easing the pressure on Kyiv. In an interview in Kyiv on February 22, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told RFE/RL that the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been fighting the separatists for nearly three years, has “reached a point now where we have to be honest.”

“What [the Russians] continue to do in eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk, gives no indication they’re backing off,” he said. “We have to give to Ukraine the tools and weapons they need to protect their own people.”

Sen. Durbin – who is the second-most-senior Democrat in the Senate and sits on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations and Rules committees – noted the reluctance of former President Barack Obama’s administration to provide Kyiv with lethal aid for fear of escalating the conflict. The United States has provided nonlethal assistance, including military training. But now, Sen. Durbin said, “We have to look at the reality.”

“Putin continues to be confrontational,” he added.

An agreement with Putin is an agreement with the devil

It has been mostly bad news for Ukraine lately. Thousands of civilians found themselves caught between frost and fire under Vladimir Putin’s fierce onslaught in the Donbas – the worst since early 2015. The Kremlin rubs its blood-smeared hands in anticipation of a new division of the world – anticipating that Ukraine is soon to be theirs. Meanwhile, many in the West seem to be contemplating “all options” to make a deal with Mr. Putin. They don’t believe in the “rise of the West” combined with the “rise of the rest.”

When did things become so bad?