Ottawa should begin thaw in relations with Moscow, Canadian experts on Russia say
Two Canadian experts on Russia have penned an article in a prestigious Moscow journal that has strong connections to the Kremlin, calling for a thaw in relations between Canada and the Russian Federation.
Gilles Breton, a former diplomat, and Carleton University political-science professor Piotr Dutkiewicz wrote the article in Russia in Global Affairs, arguing that the time has come for “meaningful conversations” with Moscow.
Canada-Russia relations have never recovered from 2014 when Moscow invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula; Canada is home to the largest population of ethnic Ukrainians outside Ukraine and Russia.
Since that year, Ottawa has slapped sanctions on more than 430 people, companies and organizations over Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, most of these in co-ordination with allies. Many of the sanction targets are in Russia.
The authors, who sit on the board of the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association, are urging the federal government to end its policy of limited contact with Moscow, even if Ottawa disagrees with many of the Kremlin’s actions at home and abroad.
“Realism dictates dealing with Russia as it is now, not with the Russia of our imagination,” they wrote in an article titled An Action Brief for Canadian-Russian Bilateral Relations. “We need to have a working channel of communications with Russia’s foreign-policy establishment.”
The Moscow journal’s board of trustees is headed by billionaire oligarch Vladimir Potanin, who appears on the U.S. Treasury’s list of 210 Russians closely associated with President Vladimir Putin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sits on the journal’s editorial board.