NP-UN National Affairs Desk.
A former president of Ukraine delivered an uncompromising message on November 19 about the prospects for a negotiated peace with Russia during a security conference in Halifax, reported The Canadian Press.
Petro Poroshenko warned the Halifax International Security Forum that Russian President Vladimir Putin can’t be trusted to negotiate a deal.
Poroshenko, who was president from 2014-2019, said Russia had reneged on security guarantees given in deals signed between the two countries in 1994, 1997 and 2015.
He said the agreements ultimately didn’t save Ukraine from Russia’s armed invasion of his country on Feb. 24.
“What is the conclusion? Don’t trust Putin,” said Poroshenko. “Putin understands only one thing: strength and our (Ukraine’s) unity.”
The ex-president noted that there has been talk in some Western countries lately of the need for negotiations, but he had a facetious answer for his audience of political and military experts.
“It (negotiation) is already going on and we have a very well prepared and very professional negotiator which is supported by you and the whole world,” Poroshenko said. “Do you know the name of this negotiator? Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
He said Ukraine would continue to need financial help from countries such as the United States to win the war, otherwise he said the costs would be much higher in battling the global instability that would follow a potential defeat.
Poroshenko also assured the forum that political leaders in Ukraine are united.
“Before the 24th of February I was the leader of the opposition, now we are united in our opposition (to Russia) until our victory,” he said.
The 15th annual edition of the forum was held over November 17-19 at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel in Halifax. Founded in 2009, the forum hosts about 300 delegates from over 60 democratic nations for a conference on global security.
Renowned as one of the globe’s premier security conferences for democratic nations, this year’s event centered exclusively on Ukraine, with all discussion panels devoted to addressing its concerns and challenges.
“There is a huge difference between ‘let’s help Ukraine not to fail,’ and ‘let’s help Ukraine to win.’ And we can practically measure these differences in types of weapons, in the gravity of sanctions, and the speed of decisions,” said Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties, which shared the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
On the opening day, Canada’s Defence Minister Bill Blair recognized the support for Ukraine as essential and the possibility of failure as not affordable, reported Victoria Brzezinski-Szadzianis of The Signal, a newspaper produced by senior journalism students at the University of King’s College in Halifax.
“We’ve got to find ways to actually solve the munitions issue and work more collaboratively together. There’s an urgency to it,” he said.
Since Russian invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Canada has committed over $2.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.
“We have tried to be a strong, reliable partner to Ukraine because their fight for freedom is the fight for all free democratic nations,” added Blair.
The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) also participated in the security forum, with delegates from numerous nations representing the worldwide Ukrainian community including UWC President Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alexandra Chyczij, and Andriy Shevchenko, the Head of the UWC Mission to Ukraine.
Grod expressed gratitude to Chyczij for her commendable leadership and the UCC’s impactful efforts in aiding Ukraine. He bestowed upon President Chyczij a distinctive tribute from UWC, presenting her with a replicated version of the 11th-century Ukrainian currency, the Hryvnia. Notably, this replica of Hryvnia was crafted using recycled artillery shells retrieved from the forefront of Ukraine’s conflict zones.
The overwhelming opinion during the presentations and meetings was that Ukraine is the key to the future of conflicts globally. If Ukraine does not prevail, the rules-based international order will crumble, and China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea will have a free hand to invade and dictate terms to other sovereign nations.
On the sidelines of the conference, Grod met with Blair; Estonia’s Minister of Defence, Hanno Pevkur; Lithuania’s Minister of National Defence, Arvydas Anušauskas, Alicia Kearns, MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, UK House of Commons, as well as Taras Zalusky, Chief of Staff at Minister of Defense of Canada.
With files from The Canadian Press; Victoria Brzezinski-Szadzianis, The Signal; UWC