Chris Westdal: Now is the time for diplomacy with Russia

Simulating attack in PolandWe wrote about Canada’s ill-advised decision to establish and lead a rotational multinational NATO battlegroup in Latvia in our blog post of 30 June entitled Trudeau government: Room for improvement on key security issues.

In that post we noted how the German Foreign Minister has variously described NATO’s actions in deploying four battlegroups on Russia’s very doorstep as “sabre rattling” and “war mongering.”

Since then former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, architect of the peaceful transition of his country from Communist bloc to Russian Federation, has described NATO’s actions thus:

They only talk about defence, but actually they are preparing for offensive operations.

Canadians elected the Justin Trudeau Liberals to forge a new relationship with Russia and to re-engage in UN peacekeeping, not to waste Canadian troops and equipment on a provocative NATO deployment, to which most European members of NATO are apparently contributing little.

Chris Westdal, the only Canadian Ambassador to have served as Head of Mission in both Russia and Ukraine, believes Canada’s Defence Minister understands the urgent need for diplomatic as well as military steps.

Defence Minister Sajjan gets the point. He says the work underway “behind the scenes” to re-establish a NATO dialogue with Russia “really is the most critical piece … We need to make sure the tensions are reduced because it doesn’t help anybody.”

However, Westdal also points out that, whatever NATO is doing multilaterally, there is precious little evidence of Canadian diplomatic efforts at the bilateral level:

Six months into his mandate, notably, Global Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has yet to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

He ends his analysis, Trudeau in NATOLand by Chris Westdal, with a plea:

If we [Canada] have anything to say, anything to contribute beyond a largely symbolic military gesture, any vision of Eurasian security to offer and help fulfil, now is the time.

For the full article, click Trudeau in NATOLand by Chris Westdal. It is also available to subscribers at Trudeau in NATOLand (The Hill Times, 8 July 2016).


Photo credit: Canadian Forces


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Chris Westdal: Now is the time for diplomacy with Russia”

  1. GuyJuly 12, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    How can we solve problems if we don’t talk to each other and this applies to nations not only our personal lives. It is a shame that we don’t have an embassy in Iran and it is a shame that we fall in line with the rhetoric of demonizing Russia for everything including the burnt toast .I even hear it on CBC and I am sick of it.
    The Liberal government must show true leadership for Canadians , and start talking to other nations on how we can go forward towards peace , not war . Start by working to disband NATO .It is outdated and outlived it’s usefulness .It has
    become an instrument of war and the warmongers need to get rained in.

  2. michel filionJuly 12, 2016 at 11:11 am #

    no to nato we do not need to destabilize other country with our money for the benefits of the american . we need all kind of services in canada right now the hospital are starving ,the road are collapsing we look like a third world country and we give money to other country . first develop here and then after if you have money left you can help other country

  3. demetriosJuly 11, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

    It is truly unfortunate and sad to witness our new PM Trudeau getting so chummy and captivated with Barack Obama. Instead of using caution, he enthusiastically jumps in to the foray of world politics and gets charmed by the American Dream without questioning the nightmarish consequences of a military build up on Russia’s doorstep.

    We voted for change. We want peace, not ever-escalating war. Trudeau represents our hope for diplomacy and a better world, instead we’re getting a nicer, prettier and whitewashed version of the same old sh*t?

    After hosting the American and Mexican Presidents recently, he first comes to the microphone not to speak of the need for peaceful resolutions, about the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, about the need for the world economies to be re-scaled to the betterment of the ecological environment as discussed in the Paris talks last December, but no, the first thing that comes out of his lips is for gay rights and diversity!?!?

    What kind of priorities are these? We hope that common sense and maturity will eventually find their way in to his young mind. There is a truly dangerous game being played with Russia and China presently, and the situation is volatile and unpredictably dangerous. NATO is no longer necessary. It is an extinct dinosaur. Canada must become a nation that espouses diplomacy, responsibility and peaceful disarmament, not some lacky to wishes and wants of our crazy neighbour to the south, the big corporations and the powerful lobbies that control it.

    Chris Westdal is right! Do not underestimate the power of canvassing. We should be writing letters to the PM’s office every chance we get to try and stop the madness that is engulfing today’s world.

  4. John DuddyJuly 11, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    I sent this to the Prime Minister and to my MP, Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs.


  1. Highlights – July 13, 2016 | Blog - July 13, 2016

    […] “Now is the time for diplomacy with Russia” ( – “Obama Wants Russia to Take the Bait, Overreact to NATO’s Next […]