'If we don’t deter Russia, Canada is going to be affected directly': Attacks on Ukraine could threaten security of Canada

An international relations expert is warning that the attacks on Ukraine by Russian forces will lead to dire consequences unless the leaders of other nations change how they deal with Russia - and that includes Canada.

Russia is in the midst of invading Ukraine from land, sea and air, zeroing in on cities and military targets.

Aurel Braun is a professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto, as well as an associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Harvard University. He says so far, leaders in countries like the U.S. have used tactics that are too soft, which is why Russia is escalating its presence in the Ukraine.

Unless we change our collective approach to Russia, we’re not going to be able to stop this. It’s likely to get worse. Not because Putin is some mad aggressor who wants to conquer countries all over the world, but because he’s an opportunist who will take whatever he can if he finds weakness.Aurel Braun, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, University of Toronto

It appears sanctions against Russia haven’t been enough. Braun says the lack of defence armament from other countries makes Ukraine a soft target. Meanwhile, diplomacy talks with the US have only appeared to make Putin more emboldened.

Domestically, Canada is close to Ukraine because of the large diaspora that live here.

When it comes to our role in the current situation, Canada has sent $7.8 million for lethal military equipment, which Braun says would add up to roughly three hours of ammunition. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a first round of sanctions against Russia and more troops have been sent to Europe. About 400 Canadian troops have been stationed in Latvia for the last several years, which Braun says puts Canada closer to the frontlines.

If Mr. Putin decides to attack Latvia, Canadians soldiers will die, it’s that basic,” he says. “This is very real for Canada. We’re not bystanders.Aurel Braun, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, University of Toronto

Canada needs to protect the Arctic, expert says

Another thing to consider is Canada’s geographical position across the Atlantic Ocean from Russia. The Arctic has become an important and contested area, thanks to its vast natural resources – 20 to 30 per cent of the world’s hydrocarbons are there. It's also an incredibly fragile ecological area, so that if an accident were to occur there, it would be catastrophic.

Though Canada has banned any exploration in most areas of the Arctic, Russia has moved full steam ahead with exploration, since 60 per cent of their exports are hydrocarbons.

“They’re not restrained by the Glasgow or Paris Agreements,” says Braun. “They’ve paid lip service to it, but in reality they’ve disregarded it...any accident would have horrific effects to the Canadian Arctic coastline.”

Russia has militarized the Arctic since it’s becoming more of a strategic area for them, which directly affects Canada.

“If we don’t deter Russia, Canada’s is going to be affected directly,” Braun says. “Materially, ecologically, and strategically.”