Articles On Ukraine: Ukraine & Canadian Residency, Ukraine & NATO

Ottawa Unveils Pathway To Permanent Residency For Ukrainians Who Have Fled To Canada


Courtesy of Barrie360.com and Canadian PressPublished: Jul 16th, 2023

By Sammy Hudes

A long-awaited program to help Ukrainians fleeing violence at home seek permanent residency in Canada will officially launch this fall, the federal government announced Saturday as advocates continued to raise questions about what exactly would be expected of those who want to take part.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser issued a news release outlining some details of the initiative Ukrainians have been seeking for months.

He said Ukrainians who have fled Russia’s illegal invasion of their home country and want to stay in Canada will be able to apply for permanent residency as of Oct. 23, as long as they have temporary resident status and at least one family member in Canada. Qualifying relatives include spouses, common-law partners, parents, grandparents, siblings and children or grandchildren of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

“As we continue to witness the devastating impact of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s illegal invasion, we stand resolute in our condemnation of this senseless violence,” Fraser said in the statement.

“We continue to extend unwavering support and a lifeline to families separated by this conflict, including through this family reunification pathway that will help Ukrainian families stay together as they rebuild their lives in their new communities in Canada.”

The announcement came the same day a program offering temporary emergency visas to Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression formally closed, though Ukrainians and their family members can still apply for a temporary resident visa to come to Canada under pre-existing immigration measures.

Ottawa said it would continue to process overseas emergency visa applications received before the July 15 deadline free of charge. Fraser had extended the program in March as the war stretched into its second year.

Anyone holding such a visa will have until March 31, 2024 to travel to Canada under the special measures. Emergency visa holders already in Canada will have until that same date to extend or adjust their temporary status, free of charge.

The emergency visa was available to an unlimited number of Ukrainians, allowing them to work and study in Canada for three years as temporary residents rather than refugees.

More than 1.1 million people have applied and at least 800,000 visas have been approved as of July 1, though only about 166,000 Ukrainians, or 21 per cent of the visa holders, have actually come to Canada.

Families eligible for Ottawa’s new pathway to permanent residency will have until Oct. 22, 2024 to submit an application.

Ukrainian Canadian Congress executive director Ihor Michalchyshyn said there are many details yet to be released on the pathway and its eligibility requirements. He said he wrote to the Immigration Department on Saturday morning seeking clarity.

“There’s lots of questions for the Ukrainian population who are looking at these programs,” Michalchyshyn said.

“We were waiting for a family reunification pathway for a long time, so happy that there’s some movement on it. It just seems like they’ve decided there will be such a thing, but how it will work is to be determined.”

The Immigration Department said more detailed information, including how to submit an application, will be made available closer to the launch of the program this fall.

It added the pathway will not affect the number of spaces available through the Parents and Grandparents Program, which allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and grandparents to immigrate to Canada. Ukrainians accepted under the new pathway will come in addition to any family members who move to Canada through the existing program.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates more than 6.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine, and more than five million are believed to be displaced within Ukraine itself.

Michalchyshyn said the uncertainty surrounding long-term residency has added to the struggle that Ukrainians fleeing the war continue to face.

“War has thrown them into this situation where they’re not sure of how long they’re going to be away from home and how long they’ll be in Canada and what the next steps are,” he said.

“Canadians … have been very welcoming, very generous, given the circumstances, and we hope that will continue. We know that’s been invaluable for people to make quick transitions out of a war zone.”

Nato and Ukraine – 2 articles

Zelensky Declares NATO Summit Victory For Ukraine As Canada, Allies Pledge More Help


Courtesy of Barrie 360 and Canadian Press Published: Jul 12th, 2023

By Sarah Ritchie in Vilnius

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other NATO leaders wrapped up their two-day summit Wednesday, they bid farewell to a very different version of Volodymyr Zelenskyy than the one they had met the day before.

Ukraine’s president declared the meetings a success, even though he left without the thing he had most vehemently argued for: a quick invitation for his country to join the alliance.

“The Ukrainian delegation is bringing home a significant security victory for Ukraine, for our country, for our people, for our children,” he said.

That was a marked change from the man who blasted NATO on Twitter on Tuesday, when he called the leaders’ decision to affirm Ukraine’s eventual membership without setting out a timeline “absurd.”

Wednesday morning, Zelenskyy and Trudeau were full of praise and warm wishes for one another when they met on the sidelines of the summit. 

“We need your support, and I’m sure that we will have it,” Zelenskyy said after the pair embraced.

By Wednesday, a line of member states’ flags flanking the main council meeting room already included Sweden’s, after leaders agreed earlier this week to admit the Nordic country into the military alliance. 

Later in the afternoon, NATO officials added Ukraine’s blue and yellow to the lineup, as the NATO-Ukraine Council met for the first time.

Then, G7 nations — led by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who attended the day’s North Atlantic Council meeting as a guest — released a joint declaration that laid the groundwork for each nation to negotiate long-term agreements to help Ukraine bolster its military. 

Zelenskyy described it as a bridge toward eventual NATO membership and a deterrent against Russia.

That is not all he took home. 

Trudeau announced that the Canadian Armed Forces will welcome Ukrainian officer cadets for an intensive training program, developed in partnership with NATO, at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. 

During a press conference late Wednesday afternoon, he told reporters the Canadian military has helped train almost 40,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel through an operation based in Latvia. 

Trudeau had announced the expansion of that mission earlier this week, saying up to 2,200 troops would be stationed there in the coming years as the NATO battlegroup ramps up to become a brigade by 2026.

Canada is expected to spend $2.6 billion over the next three years toward that goal.

“For over 500 days now, Ukraine has withstood Russian brutalities. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin made a grave miscalculation. He underestimated Ukrainians’ courage and he underestimated the strength of the West’s solidarity and resolve,” Trudeau said.

He said the G7 leaders had come together “to provide long-term, multi-year commitments” to Ukraine’s security, and those guarantees would send a stark message.

“Putin wants to wait out and grind down the alliance, grind down Ukrainians, but he’s not going to be able to because we will be there for as long as it takes, and that’s what these security assurances are all about.”

NATO leaders also agreed at this week’s summit to make two per cent of GDP a minimum target for spending on defence, with one-fifth of that money going toward new equipment and research and development. 

Canada’s spending on the military currently stands at just under 1.3 per cent of the economy.

Trudeau was asked whether he can commit to reaching the two per cent mark by the end of the decade. He did not set out a timeline or confirm Canada would meet the target. 

“We will continue to look to invest more as necessary to keep Canadians safe and to contribute fully around the world and we’ll continue to follow up on the math,” he said.

The prospective spending boost came hand-in-hand with the approval of thousands of pages of new defence plans that reposition NATO’s focus toward collective defence. They will also improve co-ordination among allies on production and procurement. 

Canada has also stepped up its diplomatic presence in eastern Europe, opening a new embassy in Lithuania this week after announcing its intention to do so last year. New embassies are also due to open in Estonia and Slovakia.

NATO Leaders Agree To Fast-Track Ukraine’s Membership, But Give No Timeline


Courtesy of Barrie 360 and Canadian Press Published: Jul 11th

By Sarah Ritchie in Vilnius

Members of NATO agreed on Tuesday to let Ukraine join the military alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met” and fast-track the process for its future membership, although gave no timeline.

The leaders of the military alliance gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania, for their annual meeting also pledged to boost spending on national defence, even though Canada and other countries have for years failed to meet the previous target.

“We reaffirmed Ukraine will become a member of NATO and agreed to remove the requirement for a membership action plan,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Tuesday.

“This will change Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step path to a one-step path,” he said.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was on his way to Vilnius for the annual meeting, pushed back against the decision.

“It’s unprecedented and absurd when a time frame is set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership,” Zelenskyy tweeted.

“While at the same time, vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine,” he said, referring to the statement NATO leaders released Tuesday.

“It seems there is no readiness to invite Ukraine to NATO or to make it a member of the Alliance.”

The statement released by NATO leaders also said members have agreed to make the existing target of two per cent of GDP the minimum spend each year, with one-fifth of that going toward major equipment and research and development.

The allies said they acknowledge that more is needed urgently to meet their commitments as members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

But only about a third of the 31 members are already spending two per cent or more on defence.

Canada has agreed to the target but has not set out a plan to reach it, with current spending sitting just shy of 1.3 per cent.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Tuesday that her message to allies is the threat from Russia is real and more is needed.

She and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met earlier Tuesday, and she thanked him for Canada’s commitment to send more troops and more money to a NATO mission in Latvia.

Trudeau and Defence Minister Anita Anand have routinely shrugged off suggestions Canadians are not pulling their weight.

But some observers say the time has come for Canada to signal to allies that it is serious about meeting its goals.

“I don’t think that Canada can just keep its head down and avoid this,” said Tim Sayle, a NATO historian and professor at the University of Toronto.

Sayle said allies will likely step up their pressure on countries like Canada, Germany, Denmark and Belgium, which are lagging behind.

Long-standing domestic issues are also playing a role in Canada’s global reputation, Carleton University professor Stephen Saideman said.

“They have not fixed the procurement processes,” he said.

“They have a personnel shortage. Together, those two things make it hard, just simply hard, to spend money. Even if you allocate a lot of money, the actual spending of it is hard.”

The changes at this year’s summit include new European defence plans and a defence production action plan, which Stoltenberg said earlier this week will “aggregate demand, boost capacity, and increase interoperability.”

Defence procurement processes in Canada are notoriously long and often fraught with controversy as domestic and foreign players compete for lucrative contracts.

“In some ways, there could be attractive solutions to Canada working with other allies in the development and procurement space. The problem we run into is that procurement is such an important part of domestic politics,” Sayle said.

Right now, Canadian company Bombardier is teaming up with General Dynamics in an effort to encourage the federal government let them bid on a contract to replace the aging Aurora surveillance aircraft fleet.

The government has insisted it is pursuing a competitive process, but it has taken steps to get approval from the United States State Department to purchase as many as 16 advanced P-8A Poseidon planes.

In a briefing before the NATO summit, senior government officials noted that the federal government has increased defence spending by 70 per cent since 2014. The officials provided a briefing to journalists under the condition of anonymity.

“It is certainly true this government has spent more money in the military. It’s certainly true it has tried to spend more money in the military,” Saideman said.

On Monday, Trudeau announced plans to spend $2.6 billion over three years to boost the Canadian presence on NATO’s eastern flank by growing a Canada-led multinational battle group in Latvia to a brigade by 2026.

His government has also pledged around $40 billion on Norad modernization, along with billions on purchasing F-35 fighter jets and building new naval ships. All of that will increase the amount the country spends.

Earlier this year, a Washington Post report cited leaked documents that said that Trudeau had privately told U.S. officials Canada would not meet the spending target.

“Part of that was a matter of being honest about our limitations, and part of it was this government’s priorities,” Saideman said.

“It doesn’t want to spend two per cent on the military, because that would mean either raising taxes or spending less money on something else.”

In a statement on Monday, Conservative party defence critic James Bezan and foreign-affairs critic Michael Chong argued that Canada’s role as a “trusted and reliable” partner has diminished.

“Our troops are struggling to do the jobs their country is asking of them due to personnel shortages and a lack of equipment,” the statement said.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has a chance at the Vilnius Summit to make a commitment to address this neglect.”

Patricia Dent

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