Politics

Ukraine's interests, not Putin's reputation, should guide world's approach to ending war: Bob Rae

Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, says the world should not be concerned with allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to save face.

'Unprovoked aggression' needs to be stopped, says former U.S. ambassador to NATO

Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, says Russian President Vladimir Putin's 'exit strategy' should simply be the removal of his troops from Ukraine. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Canada and other countries should not be concerned about providing Russian President Vladimir Putin with an off-ramp to save face over the war in Ukraine, says Canada's ambassador to the United Nations.

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live airing Sunday, Bob Rae said the international community should instead be focusing on supporting Ukraine and allowing it to lead the way in a possible resolution to the war, almost three months after Russia's invasion on Feb. 24.

"This is not going to be settled by the world without Ukraine. Ukraine is the country that has to make the decisions about how it's going to go forward and how it's going to fight these battles. And it's not up to us to tell the Ukrainians what to do," Rae told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton.

Rae said it was wrong for commentators in the West to constantly look for a way for Putin to save face.

"My view is President Putin needs to design his own exit strategy for his troops. He needs to get them out of Ukraine," he said.

WATCH | Canada's ambassador to the UN on food crisis, resolution in Ukraine war: 

'The whole UN' working to curb global hunger crisis: Bob Rae

1 month ago
Duration 8:49
Chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton speaks with Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, about the UN's discussion on how Russia's invasion of Ukraine is causing food insecurity around the globe — and how Canada can help provide relief.

In recent weeks, Russia has shifted its strategy in Ukraine. While the initial invasion was broad and seemingly aimed at capturing the capital Kyiv and forcing Ukraine's surrender, its new approach is tightly focused on securing territory in the country's east and south, primarily in the areas around Crimea and separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

While Ukrainian troops have pushed Russian forces away from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, Russian forces have made slow progress in the Donbas area.

Rae said it appeared that Russia's goal is to cut Ukraine off from access to the Black Sea, something that Ukraine could not possibly accept.

"No other country has the right to take away their territory, and no other country has the right to deny the reality of their existence," he told Barton.

Other countries could eye NATO membership: Volker

Rae's assessment was largely shared by Kurt Volker, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO who also spoke with Barton in an interview airing Sunday.

"I don't understand even the logic of suggesting that Putin needs to save face. This is unprovoked aggression against a neighbouring country. It needs to be stopped and reversed. And there is no saving face," he said.

Volker, who also served as the U.S. special representative for negotiations around Ukraine from 2017 to 2019, said it would be a "completely inappropriate, unfair reward for aggression" for a ceasefire to leave Russia in control of significant Ukrainian territory, but how far Ukraine pushes back is still a question.

WATCH | Former U.S. ambassador to NATO discusses NATO expansion: 

More countries will try to join NATO after the war: former U.S. ambassador

1 month ago
Duration 8:43
Rosemary Barton Live speaks with former U.S. ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker about Finland and Sweden's historic applications to join the alliance, as well as how this expansion is a direct response to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

"Is it all the way back to the lines before Feb 24? Is it to take all of Ukraine's territory back, including Crimea? Those are things that I think we'll have to judge along the way, and of course it will be the Ukrainians who decide."

U.S. President Joe Biden this week signed a $40-billion US aid package for Ukraine, which includes both military and humanitarian aid.

A separate diplomatic push was also underway this week as political leaders from Finland and Sweden went to Washington, D.C., to gather support for their bids to join NATO.

U.S. President Joe Biden, centre, flanked by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, right, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

Volker said he thought it was likely that initial Turkish resistance to the bids would be resolved, resulting in a significant expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And he said he expected countries that have been left in a "grey zone" for several decades would also revive attempts to join the alliance in the face of Russian aggression.

Those countries might include Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, Volker said.

"If the strongest and most capable neutral countries with strong militaries find that they think it is not safe to remain neutral, I think we need to go back and relook at the issue of NATO's membership for Ukraine as well."

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC's streaming service.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christian Paas-Lang covers federal politics for CBC News in Ottawa as an associate producer with The House and a digital writer with CBC Politics. You can reach him at christian.paas-lang@cbc.ca.

With files from Rosemary Barton and Tyler Buist

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