On July 11-12, NATO heads of state or government met in Brussels, and on July 12 they met with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. The UCC has reviewed and analyzed the policy positions outlined in the declarations and statements of the Summit. We present this summary and overview to update our community on issues directly related to Ukraine’s and Canada’s security.
- Recognizing Russia’s aggression, malign influence and human rights abuses NATO leaders stated:
Russia’s aggressive actions, including the threat and use of force to attain political goals, challenge the Alliance and are undermining Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated:
Allies and Ukraine condemned the human rights abuses and discrimination practices by the Russian de-facto authorities against the residents of the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula, including the Crimean Tatars, as well as Ukrainians and persons belonging to other ethnic, political and religious groups. […]The leaders of NATO nations and Ukraine also expressed their concern about the use of torture and the transfer of Ukrainian citizens to prisons in Russia. Russia’s ongoing militarization of Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov poses further threats to Ukraine’s independence and undermines the stability of the broader region. Leaders condemned Russia’s construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait bridge between Russia and the illegally annexed Crimea, which represents another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the infringement of its navigational rights in its territorial waters.
UCC Comment: The UCC welcomes the recognition by NATO of Russia’s malign influence, through aggression in global affairs and will continue to advocate for a stronger and more robust response to this aggression by Canada and allied nations, including the significant increase in sanctions against Russia’s officials and economy by the Government of Canada and NATO allies until Russia returns control over Crimea to Ukraine.
- A unified response to Russia’s aggression
NATO leaders stated: The Euro-Atlantic security environment has become less stable and predictable as a result of Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and ongoing destabilisation of eastern Ukraine; its military posture and provocative military activities, including near NATO borders, such as the deployment of modern dual-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, repeated violation of NATO Allied airspace, and the continued military build-up in Crimea; its significant investments in the modernisation of its strategic forces; its irresponsible and aggressive nuclear rhetoric; its large-scale, no-notice snap exercises; and the growing number of its exercises with a nuclear dimension
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated: The ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, instigated and perpetuated by Russia, remains a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security, and has produced a humanitarian catastrophe in the Donbas. This has led to the loss of more than 10,000 lives and displaced over 1.5 million Ukrainian citizens. Allies and Ukraine reaffirmed their support for the settlement of the conflict by diplomatic means in accordance with the Minsk Agreements and welcomed the efforts of the Normandy format in this regard. […]
The Heads of State and Government of NATO and Ukraine […] discussed the prospects for a possible UN-authorized peacekeeping force in the Donbas. They emphasized that it should support and facilitate the full implementation of the Minsk agreements with a robust mandate to ensure area security throughout the entire conflict zone, up to and including the Ukrainian-Russian border.
UCC Comment: The UCC welcomes NATO’s recognition of Russia’s aggression as an issue that affects not only Ukraine but the free world as a whole. The UCC will continue to advocate for a stronger response from Canada and NATO allies to Russia’s aggression, including the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine and the significant increase of sanctions against Russia’s officials and sectors of Russia’s economy, including the removal of Russia from the SWIFT international payments system. The UCC will continue to advocate for Canada taking a leadership role in a possible UN peacekeeping mission to Ukraine. The UCC’s position on a possible peacekeeping mission to Ukraine was outlined here: https://www.ucc.ca/2017/11/13/canadas-opportunity-to-restore-peace-in-europe-oped/
- Supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and universally recognized human rights
NATO leaders stated: We reiterate our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova within their internationally recognised borders. In accordance with its international commitments, we call on Russia to withdraw the forces it has stationed in all three countries without their consent. We strongly condemn Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognise. The discrimination against the Crimean Tatars and members of other local communities must end. […] We urge Russia to cease all political, financial, and military support to militant groups and stop intervening militarily in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and to withdraw troops, equipment, and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine, and return to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination. We are deeply concerned by the use of torture and the transfer of Ukrainian citizens to prisons in Russia.
UCC Comment: The UCC welcomes the strong statement in support of Ukraine’s, Georgia’s and Moldova’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression. The UCC has advocated for Canada’s sanctioning of Russian occupation officials in Crimea and Russia responsible for the violations of the human rights of Ukrainian citizens, using the tools of the Magnitsky Act. The UCC is disappointed that the Government of Canada has taken no actions against Russian officials responsible for the gross violations of human rights and will continue to advocate for a significant increase in sanctions against Russian officials responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.
- The downing of Flight MH-17
NATO leaders stated: We fully support UNSCR 2166 concerning the downing of civilian flight MH-17 and call on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish truth, justice, and accountability.
UCC Comment: In May 2018, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT – Australia, Belgium, Ukraine, Malaysia and the Netherlands) concluded that Russia’s 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade shot down Flight MH-17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board. The JIT stated that it is “convinced that the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17, originates from the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation.” The downing of MH-17 was an act of international terrorism for which the Russian government bears responsibility. The UCC will continue to call on Canada and allied nations to designate the Russian Federation a state sponsor of terrorism and declare the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “Peoples’ Republics” terrorist organizations.
- NATO’s Open Door Policy, Expansion, and Ukraine’s NATO aspirations
NATO leaders stated: We reaffirm our commitment to the Alliance’s Open Door Policy under Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, which is one of the Alliance’s great successes. […] Decisions on enlargement are for NATO itself; no third party has a say in that process. We remain fully committed to the integration of those countries that aspire to join the Alliance, judging each on its own merits. […]
An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law is key for Euro-Atlantic security. We stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s right to decide its own future and foreign policy course free from outside interference. In light of Ukraine’s restated aspirations for NATO membership, we stand by our decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit and subsequent Summits.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated: Allies expressed their unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and its right to decide on its future and foreign policy course free from outside interference, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act. […]
In light of Ukraine’s restated aspirations for NATO membership, NATO stands by its decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit and subsequent Summits. Allies encouraged Ukraine to make the best use of the tools available under the NATO-Ukraine Commission, in particular the Annual National Programme (ANP). […] The success of Ukraine’s reforms, including combating corruption and promoting an inclusive electoral process, based on democratic values, respect for human rights, minorities and the rule of law, will be crucial in laying the groundwork for a prosperous and peaceful Ukraine firmly anchored among European democracies.
UCC Comment: The 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration stated, “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO. Both nations have made valuable contributions to Alliance operations. We welcome the democratic reforms in Ukraine and Georgia. […] Membership Action Plan is the next step for Ukraine and Georgia on their direct way to membership.” The UCC applauds NATO allies’ continued commitment to Ukraine’s NATO membership and will work with the Governments of Canada and Ukraine to support Ukraine’s security, democracy and economic reforms, with the goal of accelerating Ukraine’s application for a Membership Action Plan and NATO membership.
The Open Door Policy and NATO’s commitment to democracy and rule of law have underwritten European security for 7 decades. The UCC welcomes NATO’s continued commitment to the Open Door Policy. The UCC will continue to support comprehensive defence and security reforms in Ukraine with a view to eventual NATO membership for Ukraine. The UCC will continue to call on the Government of Canada to strongly advocate for Ukraine’s further integration in NATO and Ukraine’s NATO membership.
- Strategic Importance of Ukraine to Euro-Atlantic Security
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated: An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to security in the Euro-Atlantic area, of which – as stated in the Charter on Distinctive Partnership – Ukraine is an inseparable part.
UCC Comment: The UCC welcomes the reiterated recognition by NATO leaders that the security of Ukraine and the security of the Euro-Atlantic area are inextricably linked. The UCC will continue to advocate for a significant increase in security support to Ukraine by Canada and NATO allies.
- NATO Operations and Canada
NATO leaders stated: We have established a forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance which is now operational and its full implementation will continue. As part of this, in line with our decision at Warsaw, the enhanced Forward Presence of four multinational combat-ready battalion-sized battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland includes altogether over 4,500 troops from across the Alliance, able to operate alongside national home defence forces. The Multinational Division North East Headquarters has been established and will achieve full capability by December 2018.
UCC Comment: The UCC welcomes the decision by the Government of Canada to extend Canada’s contribution to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence through Operation REASSURANCE for another four years and increase the number of personnel taking part in this mission from 455 to 540, as a sign of Canada’s commitment to deter further Russian aggression.
Canada’s training mission in Ukraine, Operation UNIFIER, in which approximately 200 CAF personnel are training Ukrainian soldiers, is currently scheduled through March 2019. The UCC will advocate for the extension and enlargement of Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s training mission in Ukraine.
- NATO’s commitment to collective defence
NATO leaders stated: The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territory and our populations against attack, as set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. No one should doubt NATO’s resolve if the security of any of its members were to be threatened.
UCC Comment: Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the principle of collective defence, is the most important pillar of security for Canada. The UCC welcomes NATO allies’ continued unequivocal commitment to Article 5
- Defence spending commitments
NATO leaders statedWe reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the Defence Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit, and to submit credible national plans on its implementation, including the spending guidelines for 2024, planned capabilities, and contributions. Fair burden-sharing underpins the Alliance’s cohesion, solidarity, credibility, and ability to fulfil our Article 3 and Article 5 commitments. We welcome the considerable progress made since the Wales Summit with four consecutive years of real growth in non-US defence expenditure. All Allies have started to increase the amount they spend on defence in real terms and some two-thirds of Allies have national plans in place to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defence by 2024.
UCC Comment: The 2014 Wales Summit declaration stated that allied nations whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below 2% will halt any decline in defence expenditure; aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows; aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls.
And while the Canadian government has committed to increase spending by 70 per cent over the next decade, those investments will only raise total spending to 1.4 per cent of GDP by 2024.  The UCC calls on the Government of Canada to meet the commitments made at Wales and set a goal of increasing Canada’s defence spending to 2% of GDP.
Quotes are based on:
NATO Brussels Summit Declaration
Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 11-12 July 2018
The full text is available here: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_156624.htm
Chairman’s statement on NATO-Ukraine following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Georgia and Ukraine at the Brussels Summit
The full text of the statement is available here: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_156623.htm