The Russian envoy would have Canadians believe they have to choose between defeating terrorism and supporting allies in the Baltics. He has revealed Russia's true desire to divide the world along Cold War lines.

By Marcus Kolga, Dec. 23, 2016

Russia’s Ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev recently made clear Moscow’s terms for its relationship with Canada, and exposed the Putin regime’s goal to reestablish Russia’s post-Second World War hegemony in Europe by dividing the continent.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, the Russian Ambassador accused Canada of diverting resources away from the war on international terror and to NATO’s upcoming deterrence mission in Latvia. The false claim -- which is later followed by a threat -- serves only to confuse and manipulate Canadians and boost the Kremlin’s position.

Canada has in fact, worked very closely and successfully with its allies to defeat terror groups including ISIS. Canadian forces and Canadian trained Peshmerga fighters were recognized as being instrumental in forcing ISIS out of Mosul earlier this year. And there is no indication that Canada is planning to relocate any resources from existing missions.

How then does Moscow’s own record of fighting ISIS and terror, compare? Late last year, the US State Department estimated that less than 10 percent of Russian bombs in the Syrian conflict were hitting ISIS or terror related targets. Over the past two years, the relentless Russian bombing of  Syrian civilian infrastructure, schools, hospitals, residential zones and reportedly a UN aid convoy has been well documented and condemned by the international community.

Human Rights Watch has published evidence of Syrian-Russian use of illegal cluster and incendiary munitions that burn victims with thousands of white-hot fragments that melt through flesh, maiming and torturing anyone within a few yards of an explosion.

Yet the Russian ambassador, whose own government has done little in the fight against terror and which has been implicated in countless violations of international conventions on war, feels compelled to criticize Canada’s reputation and record.

Canada, which has accepted tens of thousands of refugees could ask Ambassador Darchiev for his country to do a little more to help. As of November, Russian actions in the region have helped create millions of refugees, and yet the Kremlin has granted refugee status for exactly two of them. Yes, two.

According to Darchiev, terror cannot be defeated if Canada stations troops in Latvia. The Ambassador suggests, that if we compare “terror” to Putin, “terror” is clearly the greater evil and so we must not contribute to the NATO mission in the Baltics lest we allow terror to continue.

Darchiev’s massive leap of flawed logic was followed by a threat to terminate dialogue with Canada if troops are sent to Latvia. “You can’t have both” says the Russian Ambassador, “we can’t have both dialogue and deterrence.”

What should be very clear to every Canadian and our NATO partners, is that if the Ambassador’s threat were to succeed and Canada chose dialogue over deterrence, it would spell the end of NATO’s collective defence. Acquiescence to Russian demands about Canada’s NATO security guarantees in times of peace will spell disaster for those same guarantees in times of war.

The Canadian NATO mission in Latvia is very clearly intended to deter Russia from continuing to do what it has been doing throughout the region over the past decade - using its armed forces to attack neighboring countries and illegally annex their territory.

If Moscow’s intentions in the Baltic Sea region are peaceful, the Kremlin shouldn’t have any concerns about the presence of Canadian troops in Latvia. The Ambassador must surely understand that Canadian soldiers are not being sent to Latvia to help the Latvian government mount an attack against Russia. However, a Russian attack against Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania or Poland is no longer beyond the realm of possibility. And if Russia does attack any of them, Canada is required to help defend them, just as they are required to defend Canada if Russia’s growing Arctic military infrastructure is used to attack us.

Most disturbingly, the Ambassador laid bare Putin’s immediate foreign policy objectives by suggesting that Canada facilitate a Potsdam type US-Russia summit. The suggestion implies that Russia and the new US administration are preparing to re-establish the lines that divided Europe during the Cold War, just as the Iron Curtain was drawn across Europe at the Potsdam Conference in 1945.

Such a dangerous division threatens the sovereignty that the Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine and other Eastern and Central European nations have enjoyed for the last 25 years.

Marcus Kolga is a writer, documentary filmmaker, digital communications strategist, and international human rights and democracy activist. He is the publisher of and is the Canadian advisor to the Inter-Parliamentary Group on Russian Human rights and Justice for Sergei Magnitsky.

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