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Eugene Czolij: Canada must not lift sanctions while Russia commits genocide in Ukraine
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions of the Kyiv Independent.
Bullied by Russia, Germany intensely negotiated with Canada a sanctions exemption pertaining to Nord Stream 1 gas turbines included in Canada’s sanctions regime that is governed by its Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations adopted in response to Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine. Nord Stream 1 is a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, operated by a subsidiary of the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a company sanctioned by Canada.
To force this issue, Gazprom reduced the flow of natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline by 60 per cent. This shortage in energy supply was used to sow fear of a possible collapse of industries in Germany. The New York Times reported that when these gas cuts were announced by Gazprom, Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck told the press on 15 June 2022 that this was a strategy to unsettle and drive up the price of gas.
Prior to these events, Reuters reported that in April 2022, Ukraine was urging Western allies to shift the shipments of natural gas from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Ukraine's pipeline. This would force Russia to pay more transit fees to Ukraine, which would help Ukraine defend its territorial integrity and shield EU countries from Russian aggression. It would also dissuade the Kremlin from damaging Ukraine's gas pipelines.
In addition, such a shift would somewhat reduce the huge amounts that EU countries are paying Russia for energy which finance Russia’s genocidal war against Ukraine. For the record, on 6 April 2022, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and VicePresident of the European Commission, Josep Borrell Fontelles, told the European Parliament:
“We've given Ukraine nearly €1 billion. That might seem like a lot but €1 billion is what we're paying Putin every day for the energy he provides us with. Since the start of the war, we've given him €35 billion, compared to the €1 billion we've given Ukraine to arm itself.”
Instead of taking up Ukraine on its strategically advantageous proposal for both the EU and Ukraine, Germany has succumbed to Russia’s energy bullying and convinced Canada to carve-out an exemption to its sanctions regime regarding Nord Stream 1 gas turbines while Russia continues its relentless atrocities in Ukraine.
In a unanimous Motion of the House of Commons adopted on 27 April 2022, Canada qualified these atrocities by recognizing that “the Russian Federation is committing acts of genocide against the Ukrainian people.”
70 years earlier, namely on 3 September 1952, Canada ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, also known as the Genocide Convention, that was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1948 to ensure that the atrocities committed during the Second World War would never again be repeated.
Canada’s sanctions exemption for Nord Stream 1 gas turbines during Russia’s ongoing genocidal war against Ukraine is contrary to Article I of this Genocide Convention, which stipulates that:
“The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.”
Canada’s sanctions exemption also creates a dangerous precedent that will embolden the Kremlin to bully the West into lifting additional sanctions, particularly regarding the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. This would enable Russia to fully bypass Ukraine’s pipeline for the flow of gas to Europe, and dangerously increase the energy dependency of EU countries on the Kremlin’s weaponized gas supply. Moreover, as soon as it is successful in bypassing Ukraine’s gas pipeline, Russia will be able to significantly widen its missile strikes against Ukraine.
On 13 July 2022, Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion and well-known Russian political activist, correctly stated that “unity and perseverance are required against Putin’s attempt to send the world into an economic crisis with energy and food blackmail. The only way to real peace is not to give in, but to help Ukraine win as quickly as possible.”
Therefore, while Russia continues its genocidal war against Ukraine, the West must actively help Ukraine to stop it as quicky as possible and successfully defend its territorial integrity as this is not only the moral thing to do, but the only real guarantee of re-establishing peace, security and stability in Europe.