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Canada’s engagement in Ukraine

Canada and the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Learn about Canada’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Canada’s diplomatic engagement

On December 2, 1991, Canada became the first western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence. Canada and Ukraine have enjoyed a close relationship since. Our bilateral relationship is strengthened by warm people-to-people ties, rooted in the Ukrainian-Canadian community of 1.3 million people.

The 1994 Joint Declaration on Special Partnership recognizes Canada’s support for the development of Ukraine and the importance of bilateral cooperation.

Canada is represented in Ukraine by the Embassy of Canada to Ukraine in Kyiv and the Consulate of Canada in Lviv. Ukraine is represented in Canada by an embassy in Ottawa, consulates general in Toronto and Edmonton and an honorary consulate in Vancouver.

Canada's response to the illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea

Photo credit: CANADEM

Following the Revolution of Dignity in early 2014, Ukraine’s government committed to implementing democratic and economic reforms in line with its European aspirations. Russian aggression, which started in 2014 with the illegal invasion and occupation of Crimea, has drawn Ukraine into a bloody conflict in the east of the country. This conflict has placed significant pressure on the Ukrainian government’s ability to carry out its reforms.

Since the beginning of the crisis, we have led international support for the people of Ukraine. We supported Ukraine in its initial fight for democracy and reform. We continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea and its support for insurgents in eastern Ukraine. In coordination with partners and allies, we have imposed sanctions against hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities.

Canada’s assistance to Ukraine

Canada is committed to using its international assistance to support Ukraine’s goals for greater Euro-Atlantic integration. We also support securing Ukraine’s future as a democratic, rules-based state that delivers security, prosperity and freedom for all of its citizens.

Since January 2014, we have committed more than $890 million in multi-faceted support to Ukraine, using a range of instruments. These instruments include:

  • development, humanitarian and financial assistance
  • Peace and Stabilization Operations Program
  • the Canadian Police Arrangement

Development assistance

Photo credit: International Organization for Migration Mission in Ukraine

In response to the crisis in 2013, Canada expanded its development assistance package to help Ukraine avoid a major economic collapse and support unprecedented reform efforts. The areas of our current support focus on the following reform priorities:

  • constitutional
  • electoral
  • judicial
  • anti-corruption
  • decentralization
  • social policy
  • health

Since January 2014, Canada has been one of Ukraine’s leading bilateral development assistance partners, having committed more than $250 million in development assistance.

Our international assistance in Ukraine is guided by the Feminist International Assistance Policy. In July 2018, we committed up to $50 million ($35 million for development assistance) annually in support of:

  • socio-economic programs across the country
  • building a strong and accountable democracy
  • contributing to peace and security in Ukraine and the region as a whole

Our bilateral development assistance aims to contribute to a more democratic, stable and prosperous Ukraine. Our contributions target the following four action areas of the Feminist International Assistance Policy:

  1. Inclusive governance: Canadian assistance promotes inclusive governance through support for enhancing the participation of citizens, especially women, in public life and decision-making processes, including through a free, fair and inclusive electoral system. Canadian assistance also promotes inclusive governance by strengthening the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of the Government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian justice system. Canada’s contributions include a $24-million package of comprehensive elections support, announced in December 2018, for fair, transparent and democratic elections in Ukraine in 2019. This funding package supports electoral reforms, election observers, gender equality and inclusive governance in Ukraine.
  2. Growth that works for everyone: Canada fosters inclusive growth, led by the private sector; promotes investment and job creation, particularly in agriculture; and enhances shared economic prosperity for all Ukrainians. In support of this action area, in December 2020, Canada announced four projects totalling over $25 million to support the economic empowerment of rural women, internally displaced persons, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups in Ukraine.
  3. Peace and security: Canada strives to increase the psychological and economic resilience of the conflict-affected populations, including internally displaced persons. Canada also helps the Government of Ukraine respond to the needs and protect the human rights of Ukrainian citizens affected by the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
  4. Empowerment of women and girls: Canada supports women’s organizations and promotes women’s political participation. This enhances women’s collective power in addressing persistent barriers to the full realization of women’s rights in Ukraine. Canada also helps strengthen the accountability and effectiveness of the Government of Ukraine to advance equality between women and men in accessing services and opportunities from the state. In support of Ukraine’s women’s movement, in July 2018, Canada announced up to $4.75 million in funding to support a Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative in Ukraine, implemented by the Ukrainian Women’s Fund. In December 2018, Canada also announced $5 million in funding for the initiative Women of Ukraine: Heard, Capable, Resilient. In December 2020, Canada announced $7 million to increase the security and protection from sexual assault and gender-based violence for women and girls across Ukraine.

More details on our development projects in Ukraine are available through the Project Browser.

Humanitarian assistance

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Canada has committed more than $369 million in humanitarian funding since the crisis began in 2014. In 2022, $320 million has been committed to United Nations agencies, the Red Cross Movement and non-governmental organizations to support the delivery of urgent assistance to conflict-affected populations in Ukraine. This includes the provision of:

  • emergency basic health services
  • safe drinking water
  • food assistance
  • protection support
  • shelter
  • essential relief items

Defence and security cooperation

Photo credit: DND Combat Camera

Military Cooperation

In September 2015, we launched Operation UNIFIER, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) military training and capacity-building mission in Ukraine.

In addition to contributions through Operation UNIFIER, the CAF cooperates with the Security Forces of Ukraine through the Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP). Ukraine is the single largest recipient of training and funding under the MTCP. More than 2,500 military personnel have received training through the MTCP since 1993.

Since January 2019, Canada and the United Kingdom share the role of NATO Contact Point Embassy (CPE) in Kyiv. CPEs support NATO’s partnership and public diplomacy activities in partner countries. Canada also supports the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform through the delivery of language training, staff officer training and peacekeeping training for Ukrainian military and civilian personnel.

Peace and Stabilization Operations Program

Since 2014, Canada has committed more than $100 million in programming in support of peace and stabilization in Ukraine through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs).

Current PSOPs programming is mainly focused on security sector and defence reform initiatives; police reform efforts; peacebuilding and the peaceful resolution of the conflict; and supporting the women, peace and security agenda. Through PSOPs, Canada also provides support to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE’s) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to strengthen ongoing reporting of the security situation, including ceasefire violations, and to facilitate dialogue between parties to the conflict. Canada also supported Ukraine’s COVID-19 response effort by providing personal protective equipment to the National Police, as well as ventilators to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence for its hospitals.

Since 2016, PSOPs has supported police reform in Ukraine, with the establishment of the Department of the Patrol Police within the National Police of Ukraine as a fully professional and democratic policing institution. PSOP’s programming has also provided direct support to the establishment of Ukraine’s first national-level police training academy, as well as to the establishment in 2018 of the Ukrainian Association of Women in Law Enforcement.

International Police Peacekeeping and Peace Operations Program

Since March 2015, Canada has deployed Canadian civilian police officers to Ukraine through the International Police Peacekeeping and Peace Operations Program, which is jointly managed by GAC (through PSOPs), the RCMP and Public Safety Canada. The program supports Ukrainian police reform through police deployments to 2 missions:

  • A bilateral Canada-Ukraine mission (the Canadian Police Mission in Ukraine)
  • The European Union Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform

Throughout 2021, Canada had an average of 16 police officers deployed to Ukraine. This increased to 24 deployed officers in early 2022. Police officers are deployed to enhance police training, investigation and gender-based violence response, implement community policing models and improve internal accountability and oversight mechanisms. Canadian officers have delivered training to the Territorial Community Policing Officer Program and coordinated the development of a new course on community policing for Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk University, among other initiatives.

Women, Peace and Security

The women, peace and security (WPS) agenda and Canada’s National Action Plan on WPS are central to Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy. The Action Plan aims to increase women’s participation in peace and security efforts and advance gender equality through Canada’s programming, policy and advocacy efforts. In Ukraine, Canada supports the implementation of the WPS agenda through, for example, support to Ukraine’s National Action Plan on WPS and initiatives to increase the role of women in the security and defence sectors.

Trade and investment

Photo credit: Prime Minister of Canada's Office

In 2021, Canada’s merchandise exports to Ukraine totalled $220.3 million, and merchandise imports from Ukraine totalled $226 million. The top three exports to Ukraine were fish and seafood, optics, and motor vehicles. Canada’s top imports from Ukraine were iron and steel, electrical machinery and equipment, and animal and vegetable fats and oils.  In 2020, the stock of Canadian direct investment in Ukraine stood at $81M.

The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA), which entered into force on August 1, 2017, represents an important milestone in the Canada-Ukraine relationship.

On January 27, 2022, Canada and Ukraine jointly announced the launch of negotiations to modernize the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement, further reinforcing the rules-based international trading system and strengthening Canada’s connectivity to the region.

Ukraine election observation missions

Photo credit: CANADEM

In the lead-up to the 2019 presidential elections in Ukraine, Canada sent election observers to support the democratic process in Ukraine. Fifty long-term observers were sent through Canada’s bilateral election observation mission. Eight observers worked with the multilateral election observation mission led by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). They observed all aspects of the electoral process leading up to, during and following the elections. This included monitoring the participation of women, internally displaced persons and minorities in the electoral process. Close to 200 short-term observers deployed to monitor election day proceedings. In July 2019, a similar number of short-term and long-term observers were deployed to monitor the parliamentary elections. This is not the first time Canada has supported democratic elections in Ukraine. Since 2004, we have sent short-term and long-term observers to monitor presidential and parliamentary elections.

Ukraine Reform Conference

Photo credit: Global Affairs Canada

From July 2 to 4, 2019, Canada co-hosted the third Ukraine Reform Conference with Ukraine in Toronto, Ontario. There was a ministerial meeting on July 2, followed by two days of discussions at Ukraine House. Ukraine’s friends and partners from 37 countries gathered to support Ukraine’s reform process and its path to Euro-Atlantic integration. These partners included foreign ministers, heads of international institutions, parliamentarians, the private sector, civil society and think tanks.

From July 7 to 8, 2021, Canada participated in the fourth Ukraine Reform Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania. At a ministerial meeting on July 7, then-foreign affairs minister Marc Garneau emphasized the importance of anchoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence in strong institutions and a strong democratic process, which, he said, could only be achieved through the continued implementation of reforms. He commended Ukraine for the progress made to that point, notably toward decentralization, and the greater effectiveness, accountability and transparency of Ukraine’s parliament. Minister Garneau and Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna also discussed their shared desire to increase trade between the 2 countries and their common commitment to advancing gender equality through feminist policies.

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