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Canada - Ukraine Relations


Canada and Ukraine have enjoyed close relations since Canada became the first western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence on December 2, 1991. The bilateral relationship is strengthened by warm people-to-people ties, rooted in the 1.3-million strong Ukrainian-Canadian community.

Historic ties of friendship forged through generations of Ukrainian migration to Canada are reinforced by shared values and interests to produce a mature, balanced and mutually beneficial partnership. The 1994 Joint Declaration on Special Partnership, renewed in 2001, and again in 2008, recognizes Canada’s support for the development of Ukraine and the importance of the bilateral cooperation.

Canada and Ukraine cooperate in a range of international organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and La Francophonie.

Canada is represented in Ukraine by the Embassy of Canada in Kyiv and the Honorary Consulate of Canada in Lviv. Ukraine is represented in Canada by an embassy in Ottawa, a consulate general in Toronto and an honorary consulate in Vancouver. Ukraine is also planning to open a consulate general in Edmonton later in 2018.

Canada’s response to the Ukraine crisis

Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine in November 2013, Canada has been at the forefront of the international community’s support to the Ukrainian people—in their initial fight for democracy and reform under the Yanukovych regime, in their efforts to resist Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and in their government’s implementation of a robust reform agenda. In coordination with partners and allies, Canada has imposed sanctions against over 300 Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities.

Since January 2014, Canada has announced more than $750 million in much-needed assistance to Ukraine, including $400 million in low-interest loans to help Ukraine stabilize its economy and over $245 million in bilateral development assistance. Canada has also committed over $74 million to support Ukraine’s stabilization and security sector needs and over $37 million in humanitarian assistance to address the most pressing needs of vulnerable people affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Canada sent approximately 300 observers each to monitor the May 2014 presidential elections and the October 2014 parliamentary elections. Canada has committed to deploying up to 50 monitors to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine until the end of March 2019. In addition, Canada has deployed approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to Ukraine as part of Operation UNIFIER, through March 31, 2019. Operation UNIFIER is developing and delivering training and capacity-building programs for Ukrainian defence and security forces, frequently in concert with key allies, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Canada participates in Ukraine’s Defence Reform Advisory Board, which provides strategic advice to senior Ukrainian officials on transforming Ukraine’s defence establishment to meet NATO and Euro-Atlantic standards. Canada has also contributed $1 million to the NATO Trust Funds for Ukraine. Canada is one of the three major international partners supporting the reform of the National Police of Ukraine and, along with the United States, led on the launch of the new Patrol Police in 2015 and of the new Police Academy in 2018. Through the Canadian Police Arrangement, Canada has deployed 20 police officers to provide training to the Ukrainian police.

Through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program, Canada is supporting a range of initiatives to address Ukraine’s most immediate stabilization requirements. In addition to police reform, election and ceasefire monitoring, Canada is assisting Ukraine with conflict mediation and resolution, mine risk awareness, surveying and clearance, human rights monitoring and cybersecurity.

Throughout its efforts, Canada puts an emphasis on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Canada believes that increased and meaningful participation of women in conflict resolution, peacemaking and state building in Ukraine is essential to establishing sustainable peace and ensuring that men and women equally benefit from reform efforts. In Ukraine, Canada is committed to supporting the implementation of the UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and leads on initiatives aiming to increase the role of women in the security and defence sectors.

Development and humanitarian assistance

Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, Canada has provided over $527 million in development assistance support to Ukraine. These funds support growth that works for everyone, inclusive governance, peace and security and immediate humanitarian needs. The goal is to improve economic opportunities for Ukrainians, particularly women and the most marginalized and vulnerable people, in a strengthened democracy. Canada is working with the Government of Ukraine and other development partners to rapidly implement the significant reforms needed for Ukraine to realize its full economic potential and build a sound public institutional and legal environment for closer integration with Europe.

Canada is a leading partner for Ukraine in:

  • gender equality
  • democracy and inclusive and accountable governance
  • macroeconomic and financial sector management
  • civil society development
  • prevention of human trafficking
  • legal, law enforcement and judicial reform
  • cooperative development, decentralization and local economic development
  • small and medium-sized enterprises development
  • media freedom
  • promotion and protection of human rights 

In addition to contributing to numerous bilateral and multilateral electoral observation missions, Canada has consistently supported electoral system capacity-building in Ukraine.

Canada supports gender-responsive humanitarian action, based on needs, to help save lives, alleviate suffering and support the dignity of those affected by crises. In Ukraine, Canada has responded to the urgent needs of conflict-affected people by supporting experienced partners in delivering critical humanitarian assistance, including emergency health services, safe drinking water, food assistance, protection services, shelter and essential relief items.

Military and defence cooperation

In addition to the 200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel deployed to Ukraine to deliver training and capacity-building programs, CAF cooperates with the Ukrainian Armed Forces under the auspices of the Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP). Canada supports the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group through the provision of language, staff officer and peacekeeping training for Ukrainian military and civilian personnel. With Canada’s ongoing commitment and increased support to Ukraine, the MTCP has duly responded by increasing the course offerings to Ukraine every year since 2014. Ukraine is currently the largest participant in the program. CAF advisers assist Ukrainian military academic and leadership institutions in providing instruction and advice.

Through the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, Canada and Ukraine cooperate in projects in the area of nuclear security and nuclear safety (including the Chernobyl Shelter Fund) and border security.

Trade and investment

After a significant decrease in Canada-Ukraine bilateral merchandise trade in 2014 due to the instability in Ukraine, bilateral trade increased significantly by 45.4% in 2015 and by 26% in 2016. This increase was due mainly to an increase in aircraft, fish and seafood and coal exports from Canada to Ukraine. In 2017, Canada’s merchandise exports totalled $268.2 million and merchandise imports from Ukraine totalled $112.3 million.

The top two exports to Ukraine are mineral fuels and oils ($175.4 million) and fish and seafood ($24.7 million). Canada’s top imports from Ukraine include iron and steel ($28 million), machinery ($12.2 million) and electric and electronic machinery ($10.3 million).

The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA), signed on July 11, 2016, and entered into force on August 1, 2017, represents an important milestone in the Canada-Ukraine bilateral relationship. In addition to generating commercial benefits for Canadian businesses, CUFTA will support the economic reform and development efforts of the Government of Ukraine; strengthen the Canada-Ukraine partnership for peace and prosperity; and help pave the way for long-term security, stability and broad-based economic development in Ukraine. In addition, Canada and Ukraine signed a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement in 1995, a convention for the avoidance of double taxation in 1996 and an air transport agreement in 1999, amended in 2014.

Ukraine is a promising emerging market for Canadian exporters, with opportunities in agriculture and agri-food (including fish and seafood products), manufactured goods, such as articles of iron and steel, agricultural machinery, aerospace components, plastics and cosmetics. CUFTA will enable Canadian exporters to take greater advantage of these opportunities by ensuring improved market access conditions, including the elimination of tariffs.

The two countries have signed a variety of agreements and memoranda of understanding covering trade, technical cooperation, defence and mutual legal assistance. Canada and Ukraine are working to broaden the scope of bilateral relations and cooperation, including in culture and film production.

July 2018

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