Canada’s engagement in 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 crisis in Ukraine

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 $785 million in assistance to Ukraine, using a range of instruments. These instruments include:

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 $245 million in development assistance.

Our international assistance in Ukraine is guided by the Feminist International Assistance Policy. In July 2018, we committed $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 July 2018, Canada announced a $30-million call for preliminary proposals for innovative projects to enhance the economic security of rural women, especially those affected by the conflict in the eastern part of the country.
  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.

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

Humanitarian assistance

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Since the onset of the crisis in 2014, Canada has provided more than $37 million in humanitarian funding to United Nations agencies, the Red Cross Movement and other 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. Currently, we deploy approximately 200 CAF personnel to Ukraine under Operation UNIFIER, which has been extended until March 31, 2022. The CAF have trained more than 12,500 members of Ukraine’s Security Forces since the mission began. We also contribute a senior representative to Ukraine’s Defence Reform Advisory Board. This representative provides strategic advice on defence reform to Ukraine’s Minister of Defence and senior officials.

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

Canada is assisting Ukraine with conflict mediation and resolution, mine risk awareness, surveying and clearance, and human rights monitoring. To address Ukraine’s most immediate stabilization requirements, we support a range of initiatives through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP). Canada has contributed more than $74 million to support its stabilization and security sector.

Since 2016, the PSOP-funded Police Training Assistance Project (PTAP) has supported training and reform of the National Police of Ukraine. These efforts are in addition to our ongoing work in police reform, election support and ceasefire monitoring. PTAP has been instrumental in the establishment of the Department of Patrol Police within the National Police of Ukraine as a fully professional and democratic policing institution. PTAP has also provided direct support to the establishment of Ukraine’s first national-level police training academy, as well as the establishment of the Ukrainian Association of Women in Law Enforcement in 2018.

Canadian Police Arrangement

Since March 2015, Canada has deployed Canadian civilian police officers to Ukraine through the Canadian Police Arrangement (CPA). The CPA supports Ukrainian police reform through police deployments to two missions:

  • a bilateral Canada-Ukraine mission
  • the European Union Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform

Canadian police officers in Ukraine provide strategic advice and training to their Ukrainian counterparts. This advice and training cover topics such as police safety, criminal investigations and preventing and responding to gender-based violence.

Women, Peace and Security

Canada puts an emphasis on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In Ukraine, Canada is committed to supporting the implementation of UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. We lead on initiatives aiming to increase the role of women in the security and defence sectors.

Trade and investment

Photo credit: Prime Minister of Canada's Office

In 2018, Canada’s merchandise exports to Ukraine totalled $220 million, and merchandise imports from Ukraine totalled $126 million. The top four exports to Ukraine were mineral and fuel oils ($87.3 million), fish and seafood ($51.2 million) and machinery ($19.9 million). Canada’s top imports from Ukraine were iron and steel ($30.3 million), electronic equipment ($18.4 million), and paints, dyes & tanning products ($11.9 million).

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

Ukraine is a promising emerging market for Canadian exporters, with opportunities in:

  • agriculture
  • agri-food, including fish and seafood products
  • manufactured goods, such as articles of iron and steel
  • agricultural machinery
  • aerospace components
  • plastics

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 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) 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.

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