In Kiev visit, Trudeau reaffirms Canadian imperialism’s support for US-NATO war on Russia

Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among several international leaders to visit Kiev February 24 on the second anniversary of the US/NATO-provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. Trudeau used the occasion to announce that his government will provide the far-right Zelensky regime with an additional Canadian $320 million in military aid in 2024. He and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnky also unveiled a 10-year Canada-Ukraine Security Cooperation Agreement that commits Ottawa to strengthening its military support and cooperation with Kiev.

Trudeau’s visit and related announcements confirm Canadian imperialism’s role as a major aggressor in the US-led war against Russia. Washington and its allies aim to reduce Russia to the status of a semi-colony in order to seize control of its natural resources and strengthen imperialist control over Eurasia in preparation for a showdown with China.

In a press release, Ottawa boasted that with the more than Canadian $3 billion in additional economic and military aid for 2024 that Trudeau announced while in Kiev, total Canadian support for Ukraine since 2022 now tops C$13 billion. This includes $4 billion in military assistance and $7 billion in financial loans administered through the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of other NATO states travelled to Kiev last Saturday, the second anniversary of the war's outbreak. From the left, Trudeau, Italy's Premier Giorgia Meloni, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo [AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky]

The Trudeau government also announced a significant new investment in its military operations in Latvia, where it leads a NATO anti-Russia “enhanced forward” deployment. At a NATO meeting in mid-February, Defence Minister Bill Blair unveiled a plan to invest $227 million in a short-range air defence system and $46 million in an anti-drone defence system. There are eight NATO brigades deployed in the Baltic republics, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria, with the aim of strategically encircling Russia in preparation for a direct war.

The Trudeau government’s increased military and financial support for Kiev comes as open discussion about the deployment of NATO ground troops in Ukraine is under way. At the end of a meeting in Paris on Monday, attended by many European heads of government and NATO defence ministers, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the question of deploying NATO ground troops to Ukraine had been a key topic of discussion; then added provocatively, there was “no agreement this evening to officially send troops onto the ground but we cannot exclude anything.”

The subsequent claim by leading officials from European and North American governments, including Blair, that there are “no plans” for deploying NATO troops to Ukraine follows a by now well-worn pattern of escalation, seen repeatedly over the course of the two-year-old war. First, NATO leaders dismiss the next escalatory step—whether it be the sending of tanks, aircraft or mid- and now long-range missiles—as a “red line” they dare not cross for fear of provoking an all-out war. Subsequently, it is revealed to be under active discussion and then announced and implemented. Macron’s remarks confirm that plans for deploying NATO ground troops are well advanced.

Canada’s participation in the escalation of the war on Russia comes just days after the trade union-sponsored New Democratic Party (NDP) reaffirmed its support for the pro-war, pro-austerity Liberal government. Languishing in the polls, the NDP had made a show of threatening to withdraw from the “confidence-and-supply agreement” under which it has pledged to keep the minority Trudeau Liberals in power till June 2025 unless the government acted on its longstanding promise to institute “pharmacare.” Predictably, this proved to be a piece of political theatre, with the NDP and unions hailing as “historic” a bare-bones agreement reached last week to provide coverage for a handful of diabetes and contraceptive medications.

In a statement delivered in Kiev, Trudeau trotted out the well-worn lie that Ukraine is fighting “Putin’s unprovoked invasion.” He insisted that the 10-year security agreement—which provides assurances of continued support for Ukraine similar to the recent bilateral accords Kiev has struck with Britain, Germany, Denmark and Italy—showed Canada was committed to the “long-term” to help Kiev secure a “decisive victory.” This, he said, would include restoration of its full “territorial integrity,” including the Crimea and the Donbas and Luhansk regions.   

Trudeau’s fairy tale of an “unprovoked war,” which has been repeated by all the imperialist powers and their media mouthpieces ad nauseam, was conclusively revealed to be a lie by the admissions made in an article published this past weekend in the fervently pro-war New York Times. Acknowledging that the CIA mounted extensive operations with Ukrainian intelligence over the past decade to prepare for war with Russia, the piece vindicated the analysis made by the World Socialist Web Site of the 2014 Maidan coup as a stepping-stone for the US, Britain, Germany and Canada towards all-out war with Russia.

The Canada-Ukraine “Security Cooperation Agreement”

The Canada-Ukraine Security Cooperation Agreement aims to perpetuate the NATO-Russia war after it has already claimed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives, and prepare the Canadian military for future conflicts. A “Canada-Ukraine Strategic Security Partnership” will oversee economic cooperation in the military, defence industry, and intelligence sectors, as “prosecuting” the war with Russia “relies on having reliable access to resources and (the) capabilities to do so.”

The agreement also commits Canada and Ukraine to step up their sharing of “information, requests and feedback as strategic partners”; to work to “develop and deliver bespoke military, security, economic, and other support to Ukraine”; and to “facilitate the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Ukraine.” The agreement pledges Canadian support for Kiev’s integration into NATO and the European Union, which would mean direct war between NATO and Russia.

Albeit using dry political and technocratic jargon, the agreement spells out how imperialism plans to consolidate its domination over Ukraine financially, politically and militarily as part of its drive to subjugate Russia. As part of this process, Canadian imperialism’s military-security apparatus is anxious to appropriate the combat and counterintelligence know-how Ukraine has built up with assistance from the Western powers. An entire section is devoted to intelligence sharing, including countering “disinformation” and cyber-warfare, i.e., the suppression of anti-war and other critical voices online. The document notes, “Building on the ongoing support and successes to date, and recognizing that Canada has much to learn from Ukraine’s experiences and knowledge, the Participants will aim to deepen their bilateral cooperation across a range of areas including defence, security, stability and resilience.” In another place, it adds that the importance of information-sharing for both sides arises from the “unprecedented experience and knowledge that Ukraine has in terms of use of new technologies in warfare, countering disinformation, and other capabilities.”

Canada is deepening “cooperation” with a “strategic partner” whose state is riddled with far-right and outright fascist forces. Many of them have obtained their positions thanks to the previous collaboration of Ottawa, Washington, London and Berlin with the pro-Western regime brought to power by the fascist-spearheaded 2014 Maidan coup. The military and intelligence forces so highly praised by the agreement include members of the fascist Azov Battalion and other neo-Nazi groups, who have received high-level military and intelligence training by Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

The agreement is therefore not merely a threat to the Ukrainian working class, which Canada wants to continue using as cannon fodder for its imperialist goals. It also represents a real danger to workers across Canada, who will confront a state apparatus in their coming struggles that has “learned” from its “experience” of working with fascists in waging imperialist war on Russia.

The political content of this alliance was on full display during Zelensky’s visit to Ottawa last September, when he, together with Trudeau and the entire Canadian parliament, gave a standing ovation to the Ukrainian Waffen-SS veteran Yaroslav Hunka. Hunka, who was also personally invited by Trudeau to attend an exclusive reception for Zelensky in Toronto, served in the Galicia Division, which was involved in the Holocaust and the bloody suppression of an uprising of the Slovak working class. The standing ovation for Hunka was also joined by the ambassadors from all G-7 members.

Trudeau was accompanied on his visit to Kiev last Saturday by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. She is best known as the granddaughter of a Ukrainian Nazi collaborator. Mykhailo Chomiak was the editor of Krakivski Visti, a fascist Ukrainian-language newspaper that campaigned for the formation of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division and whipped up antisemitism throughout the war. Freeland concluded her remarks in Kiev with the infamous “Slava ukraini!” slogan, which has its origins in the pro-Nazi Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists led during World War II by Stepan Bandera.

Canadian imperialism’s alliance with the political descendants of Nazi war criminals is endorsed throughout the entire political establishment. The most pivotal source of political support for the Trudeau government comes from the trade unions and the trade union-sponsored NDP, whose MPs have ensured his government its parliamentary majority since 2019, initially on a case-by-case basis, and then formally with the conclusion of their March 2022 governmental alliance.

In a statement marking the second anniversary of the war, the NDP left no doubt about its wholehearted endorsement of Canadian imperialism’s aggressive role in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe against Russia. Foreign affairs spokesperson Heather McPherson echoed almost word for word the official government propaganda about the war, describing it as “Putin’s illegal full-scale invasion.” She then asserted that “Putin’s brutal genocide has killed and injured tens of thousands of Ukrainians.” This remark is especially revealing and noxious as it comes from a party that has refused to acknowledge the real genocide being conducted by Israel, with the backing of the Trudeau government and all the imperialist powers, in Gaza. The NDP has also participated in the witch-hunt of opponents of the Gaza genocide and the continuing suppression and dispossession of the Palestinians, including targeting its own party members.