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The petro-war of Chrystia Freeland: Canada’s military support for Ukraine

Why the escalating confrontation between NATO and Russia is about liberating Europe from Russian gas

Canadian PoliticsEuropeWar Zones

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds a bilateral meeting with then Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland in Kiev, September 2017. Photo from Twitter.

According to the Globe and Mail, Canada’s Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, is playing a leading role in the Trudeau government’s efforts to provide expanded support to the Ukrainian military. As Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, she presides over a committee made up of Chief of Staff General Wayne Eyre, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, Minister of Defence Anita Anand, and Clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charette.

Once again, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been sidelined, the same way he was in the Meng Wanzhou affair, when Freeland rejected all proposed solutions, even one from Jean Chrétien, and displayed a lot of determination to poison Canada’s relations with China.

Freeland is the spokesperson of the powerful Ukrainian lobby in the federal cabinet. Born in Alberta of Ukrainian parents, she was noted, even before entering federal politics, for her anti-Russian activism, to the point of being declared persona non grata by the Kremlin.

Today, she wants Canada to respond positively to the Ukrainian government’s requests for military aid. Ottawa already renews, every six months, the mission of 200 military personnel charged with training Ukrainian soldiers. Now Kiev also wants arms and new economic sanctions against Russia.

Canada has given $700 million worth of military aid to Ukraine since 2014 and has just approved a package of “economic” aid worth another $120 million. Retired general Michael Day, who headed Canada’s Special Operations Forces Command, has stated that this money could allow Ukraine to free up funds to buy arms. We should add that the frigate HMCS Montréal of the Royal Canadian Navy is now headed to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Behind the Ukrainian lobby and the oil lobby

Next to Russia, Canada is home to the largest Ukrainian community outside of Ukraine, but the influential domestic Ukraine lobby does not explain everything. Behind the Ukraine lobby is the oil lobby. The geo-strategic stake in the confrontation between NATO and Russia, one about which little has been said, is the decoupling of Europe from Russia, and an end to European dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. More than 40 percent of the natural gas and 20 percent of the gasoline consumed in Europe originates in Russia. The most dependent countries are Germany, Italy, and Turkey.

At the heart of the matter is the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, whose construction has just been completed. It would allow Russian exports to double and would reduce to secondary importance the gas pipeline that presently passes through Ukraine and Poland to other European countries. To abandon the project would deprive Ukraine of $4 billion in annual fees and a certain degree of control over exports from Russia.

The German government has so far resisted the pressure that the United States has exercised to get Germany to prevent Nord Stream 2 from starting to operate, arguing that it is a private enterprise. In any case, Germany would find it hard to carry out such prevention in the event of a military confrontation involving the US over Ukraine.

The American media is already on the offensive. The Wall Street Journal bluntly accused Berlin of disloyalty:

Facing the two most consequential security threats to America and to the post-World War II democratic international order—China and Russia—Germany is no longer a credible ally. For Germany, cheap gas, car exports to China and keeping Mr. Putin calm seem to be more important than allied democratic solidarity.

It is interesting to note that the three most bellicose countries are located in the Anglosphere—the US, the UK and Canada—and none of them consume Russian hydrocarbons. On the contrary, in the case of the US and Canada, they want to open the European market to North American liquified gas. A project already exists—the Three Seas Initiative—for modernizing infrastructure to accommodate American liquefied natural gas in twelve Eastern European countries.

Return of GNL (liquefied natural gas) Québec?

In Québec, the GNL Québec project for exporting Albertan natural gas through the Saguenay had Germany as its target market. A non-binding agreement had been signed between the Belgian firm Fluxys for the construction of a terminal in Hamburg. The project was shelved because of the weak price of natural gas. But the price is now rising strongly, and the abandonment of Nord Stream 2 could very well unite the conditions for GNL’s renaissance.

One should also not forget that Canada signed an “energy partnership” with Germany for gas that will be transported by a new pipeline that crosses Québec to a liquifying factory in Nova Scotia. The liquefied natural gas project Goldboro, worth $13 billion, is comparable to the GNL Saguenay project—the two could transport a similar quantity of natural gas.

In the event of a military confrontation between the US and Russia, Russia could close the tap of the gas pipeline that passes through Ukraine, or it could be sabotaged. One can easily imagine the oil industry, the Trudeau government, and the media begging to let Canadian resources pass through to ensure that Europe “does not freeze in the dark.” And be assured, the two projects mentioned above will be presented as part of a plan for the “energy transition” that would prevent Germany and other European countries from using coal or nuclear power.

A broken promise

US President Joe Biden’s comment to the effect that a “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukraine would not provoke a major response from a divided Europe has been much commented upon. His words were said to be “ambiguous,” coming from a “confused” president. But one cannot exclude the possibility that it was a trap being set for Putin. We should recall that the US laid a similar trap for Saddam Hussein, implying that the US would not intervene if he invaded Kuwait. And we know the rest.

Many articles have reminded us that US Secretary of State James Baker promised Mikhail Gorbachev that, in return for a unified Germany in NATO, there would be no expansion to the east of the alliance “by even one inch.” The promise was broken. The alliance moved more than a thousand kilometres east.

The US, whose Monroe Doctrine of 1823 condemned any European interference in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere, is poorly placed to criticize Russia, a country that was invaded by Napoleon and Hitler across the planes of Ukraine, for wanting to defend its borders.

In an important article in the September-October 2014 issue of the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs entitled “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault,” John Mearsheimer, professor at the University of Chicago, suggested making Ukraine a buffer state, like Austria was after the Second World War. Austria, one will recall, was not a member of NATO.

We, too, are making that proposal on our own and we urge all people who love peace to support it and to demand the dismissal of Chrystia Freeland from the federal cabinet.

Translated by David Mandel.

Pierre Dubuc is the editor of L’aut’journal.

This article originally appeared on the L’aut’journal website.


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