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Sanctions and weapons: What can the West do to stop Russia's attack on Ukraine? (CTV News)

26.02.2022

As Ukrainians continue to defend their country against Russian attacks, some say western sanctions may help in the long term, but more can be done right now.

"I would say if diplomats want to do something, especially from countries that were previously chummy with Russia, they should be reaching out to their Russian elite contacts, officials, oligarchs and asking them, persuading them, to take Mr. Putin's finger off that nuclear button," former Canadian ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

War between Ukraine and Russia entered its third day on Saturday, as Russian forces continued to shell Ukrainian cities and hundreds of thousands of people fled to the European Union.

But despite being outmanned and outgunned, Ukrainian forces have managed to repel many attacks and maintain control over their capital Kyiv.

The West has provided weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and NATO plans to send thousands more troops from its Response Force, the first time it has been used as a collective defence, to protect its allies near Ukraine and Russia.

Reuters reports that some of the 30 NATO allies have announced they will supply more weapons to Ukraine, including air defences.

Waschuk says Putin appeared not to anticipate the level of defence and response he is encountering from Ukraine.

"He, I think, had his own idea of Ukraine, a Ukraine where people would be greeting Russian soldiers with flowers and feeling great relief at being liberated from the drug addicts that he claims run the country," Waschuk said.

"But this is a bizarre, delusional belief on his part and it has been, I think, completely smashed by what's happened."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which Waschuk said the West might be reluctant to do, as shooting down a Russian aircraft would constitute an act of war.

He suggested that if a no-fly zone is used that it be put in gradually, applying only to missiles at first.

"We've had no-fly zones before. We had them over Syria, we had them over Libya, but never of course with a nuclear power led by a delusional, highly threatening leader," Waschuk said.

SWIFT
Retired major-general and CTV News military analyst David Fraser told News Channel on Saturday that anyone supporting Russia must be held accountable.

Along with Russia, countries also have imposed sanctions on Belarus, which has served as a staging ground for Russian forces.

"Anybody who is supporting this illegal invasion should be held accountable, and by extension politically, China should be encouraged not to engage," he said.

Jeremy Kinsman, a former Canadian ambassador to Russia, says while sanctions generally aren't very effective, the latest ones announced by Canada and its allies go much deeper.

Speaking to CTV News Channel on Saturday, Kinsman pointed to growing consensus to eject Russia from SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, a messaging platform used to settle financial transactions around the world.

Later on Saturday, Western allies announced sweeping new sanctions against Moscow on Saturday, including kicking key Russian banks off SWIFT, making it more difficult for financial institutions to send money in or out of the country.

"Whether with our Visa card or we're buying an Airbus, these things have to be processed through the international banking system," Kinsman said.

In a recent round of sanctions, Canada joined its allies in targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, along with his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

This, Kinsman says, is among the most important sanctions levied against Russia, along with those that will hit the average Russian citizen.

The European Broadcasting Union says that Russia will not be allowed an entry in this year's Eurovision Song Contest and both Poland and Sweden are refusing to play against the country's soccer team in their World Cup qualifiers next month.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who is a native of Russia, also asked for "no more war" while speaking to reporters on Friday.

"These sorts of things are conveying to Russians that Russians here have to accept that their leader has committed a terrible crime in their name, and this is what I think is going to be more of a change than anything else," Kinsman said.

Russia cracked down on anti-war protesters in its own country in recent days, although Kinsman says he believes those demonstrations will make a difference as far as Putin's thinking.

And while further devastation in Kyiv is possible, he says the alternative is Russia trying to occupy a country of 44 million that is increasingly hostile, resistant and bitter.

"They can try it, they can't digest it, so something is going to have to happen."

CALLS TO HELP BRING UKRAINIANS TO CANADA
Ihor Michalchyshyn, CEO and executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, called the conflict the "nightmare scenario" Canadians and the world have been warned about, but one that is being "buoyed" by the work of the Ukrainian armed forces.

He told CTV News Channel on Saturday he is scared about war crimes taking place, with reports of Russian missiles hitting apartment buildings and schools. The Ukrainian government also has been arming its citizens with weapons.

"It's very scary. Civilians should not need to be doing this. Canada needs to send more defensive weapons, more arms, as Poland did yesterday a huge convoy of ammunition and weapons," Michalchyshyn said.

"Literally, it is going to be hand-to-hand combat in the coming hours."

He also called on Canada to "imminently" open its refugee program to help reunite families, given the large lineups at Ukraine's borders with neighbouring countries.

The United Nations estimates up to five million people could be displaced by the conflict.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said Canada has arranged for the safe passage of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their families still in Ukraine through its land borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.

Canada also will prioritize immigration applications for Ukrainians, he said.

While sanctions are important to help cripple the Russian economy in the short and medium term, Michalchyshyn said they would not stop the battles taking place in Ukraine's streets.

"We're calling on Canadians to do everything we can, and Russian disinformation is Russian disinformation," he said. "I think it's very clear to see that those are all lies."

Read the original publication here.