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Putin’s irrationality meant no one could have prevented war: Canada’s envoy to Ukraine

As Canada’s embassy in Ukraine adapts to a new normal in the country, Ambassador Larisa Galadza says nothing could have prevented Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching his war against Ukraine.

“He wasn’t believing history. He wasn’t logical. He wasn’t rational. He isn’t rational. So, I don’t know how one prevents that,” Galadza said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live that aired Sunday.

Western countries are reopening their embassies in Ukraine after many were evacuated in the lead-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February. That invasion had been long warned about by U.S. intelligence.

Galadza noted sanctions Canada had in place against Russia since its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its military training mission, saying “I don’t think there was anyone who could stop Putin doing what Putin did.”

She argued that it was beneficial for Canada’s diplomatic mission to shift to Poland early in the war, as they were better able to help co-ordinate the response to the intense humanitarian crisis provoked by the invasion.

Trudeau meets with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 8 in Kyiv. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

The Canadian embassy in Kyiv reopened last weekend during a surprise trip by Trudeau to the war-time capital. Galadaza said her outfit, like other Western embassies, was taking its return to operations “one step at a time.”

She said it was good to be back in the city and able to engage in “classic diplomacy” and one-on-one meetings.

“But it has also definitely felt different. The city isn’t full of life like usual. And there are barricades. There are sandbags in front of the main buildings …this is just a juxtaposition of the very normal with the extremely abnormal,” she said.

Canada’s consular presence remains strongest in Poland, she noted.

Galadza also described the destruction she witnessed in areas around Kyiv, including her tour of Irpin.

“It’s big. It’s a whole destroyed town.”

Finland’s NATO bid a ‘win-win’: former PM

As Western embassies ramp up their operations in the country, a different diplomatic push is underway as Finland formally announces its intention to join the NATO alliance, with a similar announcement likely from Sweden after its ruling party backed the idea Sunday.

The two countries have long adopted a policy of neutrality, but that stance has been shattered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov said the move “cannot fail to arouse our regret, and is a reason for corresponding symmetrical responses on our side.”

But in an interview with CNN on Sunday, Finland’s president said a conversation he had with Vladimir Putin was “calm and cool,” though the latter called the shift a “mistake.”

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto attends the press conference on Finland’s security policy decisions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on May 15. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtiuva/AP)

Former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb, who was the country’s head of government from 2014-2015 and served in a variety of cabinet positions prior, including foreign minister, told Barton Finland’s bid is a “win-win,” strengthening both sides.

“You could say that this is Putin’s NATO enlargement,” he said. “I guess I should thank him.”

Stubb said he had long been in favour of Finland joining NATO, calling for a mix of “idealism and realism in our security policy, which means that on one side we cooperate with Russia, but on the other side, we get all of the security that we possibly can.”

Opinion polls in Finland suggest the public approval of joining NATO has shifted dramatically, with a strong majority now in favour.

Stubb also suggested Russia’s response has been more muted than he might have anticipated.

“I think the reaction from Russia has actually been quite moderate, quite calm. And in that sense, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been tougher language,” he told Barton.

“We think this is just good for the overall balance of security in the region. Russia knows that we’re not going to attack them.”

Trudeau has said Canada is in favour of Finland and Sweden’s accession, as does the United States. Turkey has expressed reservations but Stubb said he did not believe they would hold to that stance.

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.



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