Russia is back on its Ukraine bullshit again: last week, the Russian navy boarded and seized a Ukrainian gunboat and a tugboat taking the crews of the vessels prisoner, at least for the time being. NATO is sitting on their hands, just like they did when Putin sent mercenaries and unflagged Russian special forces operators into Ukraine to wrest control of the Crimea peninsula back in 2014. There's a lot of finger wagging and tut-tutting, sure. Trump said that he was calling off his chat with Putin last week as a result of the Russian military's aquatic clusterfuck…but then he met with him anyway.
After four years of putting up with Russian occupation of a chunk of their territory, Ukraine knows better than to leave sorting it out to diplomacy: the seizure of the nation's vessels could well be Putin's way of gauging the west's reaction to a larger action–one that could lead to a large-scale assault on Ukrainian turf.
In response to Putin's dry run, Ukraine has called up its citizen reservists, declared martial law in some parts of the country, and has been toying with the idea of refusing entry to any Russian male of fighting age. Oh, and they've asked Canada to renew the assistance that they've been giving them for the past few years.
From The CBC:
Canada is being asked to renew its military training mission to Ukraine — a proposal that's taking on a whole new level of urgency as border tension ramps up with Russia.
Canada's deployment of 200 soldiers is up for renewal in March.
Moscow seized three Ukrainian naval ships and their crews Sunday in waters off Russian-annexed Crimea. Tensions in the region — particularly over the Kerch Strait — have been building for months and aren't likely to dissipate soon, said Ukraine's ambassador to Canada in an interview with CBC News.
"All of these provocations by Russia, they are a good reason to reinforce what we already do," said Andriy Shevchenko. "We expect and hope Canada will renew its Operation Unifier, which is this wonderful training mission that Canada has in Ukraine."
Since being deployed by the previous Conservative government in the wake of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, Canadian troops have trained almost 8,000 Ukrainian soldiers in advanced small combat team skills, bomb disposal, medical care and military policing.
In 2014, the woefully under prepared, undermanned and under equipped Ukraine military couldn't meet the sudden asymmetric onslaught of their Russian invaders. As a result, a large portion of the resistance mounted by the Ukrainians had to be mounted by volunteer militias with members pouring in to help the country fend off the attack. Once the bulk of the fighting stopped (it's still kinda going on,) the Ukrainian government asked many of the volunteers to head on home and absorbed others into the Ukrainian military.
Over the past four years, the nation, with the help of pals like Canada, has been taking steps to ensure that they're not caught with their pants down again.
Whether NATO will be onboard with extending more resources to the Ukraine military in light of Russia's most recent attack remains to be seen. The question of Canada's continuing their training mission in the nation is anybody's guess.
Image via The Canadian Armed Forces-(Photo by Op UNIFIER – DND, Joint Task Force Ukraine)