NP-UN Western Bureau Chief
The Vice President of the Edmonton Branch of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC), is taking issue with comments the National President made regarding the current war in Ukraine.
In a recent article in the St. Catherine’s Standard, AUUC National President Glenn Michalchuk criticized the Government of Canada for supplying weapons to Ukraine, attributing this to a “Cold War ideology”.
“It exists both in Ukraine and in Western countries, who now pump weapons into the country. It also exists among a section of the Ukrainian diaspora, who see the war as the means to settle accounts with Ukraine’s history within the Soviet Union,” he wrote.
Michalchuk said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected to end the “civil war”, but was “stopped from doing this by the ultranationalists and the non-capitulation movement.”
He argued that the only way to end the war was through negotiation.
“Nobody would fail to agree that peace and a ceasefire would be much better than what we have now, but, having said that, that’s just not enough,” AUUC Edmonton VP Winston Gereluk told NP-UN.
“When he talks about negotiation, that’s where I draw the line. Because I used to work for a trade union and I know that when you going into negotiations and you agree to negotiate… both sides walk into it knowing you’re going to have to give up something. And in this case, it’s quite clear to me that negotiations do not apply. Because what does Ukraine have to give up? Why should Ukraine have to give up anything?
If negotiations were to take place, the concessions would have to come from Russia’s side – “To stop the bombing, stop the shooting, stop the aggression and withdraw from the borders.”
This is unlikely to happen because “I don’t see how (Russian President Vladimir) Putin can withdraw from the conflict and save face in the process. He’s in it so deep.”
But with Ukraine going on the offensive with the help of Western arms “there’s a good chance that Putin’s ground troops will be driven back further.”
“I would say that the only way to end this war is for Ukraine to drive the Russians out.”
Gereluk added that he can’t imagine that Putin and his ruling cabal are not feeling the impact of this war at home pointing out that “the Vietnam war dragged on for a long time and in the end it was the loss of life and the effect on the economy that brought it to an end.”
He also said there is a geopolitical aspect to this war as NATO increased its membership from 12 to 30, but agreed with NP-UN when it was pointed out that the Eastern European countries that asked to join NATO after the Soviet Union broke up did so because they had experienced Russian occupation.
“It’s the right of any sovereign country like Ukraine to belong to whatever alliance it wants to belong to.”
Gereluk said that because of its name, the AUUC’s Edmonton building, the Ukrainian Centre gets a huge number of calls from people wishing to donate money to help Ukraine and directs them to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
The AUUC was founded in 1946 as a successor to the pre-World War II pro-Soviet Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association.
At its height in the late 1940s it had 168 branches across Canada with thousands of members.
But the organization began to decline following Nikita Khrushchev’s revelations about Joseph Stalin’s crimes, the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and Ukraine’s 1991 Declarations of Independence.
During the 1990s AUUC National President Yuri Moskal and Alberta President Walter Makowecki attempted to reverse the organization’s pro-Communist orientation and join the mainstream Ukrainian community, but were ousted from their positions by hardliners.
Today the AUUC has very few members but holds considerable financial and property resources which it built up over the years.