Ukraine crisis: John Baird says no 'blank cheques'

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada will live up to obligations made to Ukraine, but will not “write blank cheques.” Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada publicly complained this week his country had not received $200-million Canada pledged. However, in an interview with CBC’s The House, Baird said these things take time.

Foreign affairs minister reacts to complaints from Ukraine ambassador that Canada hasn't delivered on promis

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (left) shakes hands with Vadym Prystaiko, Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, as they meet on Parliament Hill in March 2014. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada will live up to the obligations it has made to Ukraine, but will not “write blank cheques.”

Earlier this week, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Vadym Prystaiko, publicly complained in an interview that his country had not received the $200 million in aid that Canada has pledged.

In an interview with CBC Radio’s The House, however, Baird said these things take time.

Money going through IMF

“When we made that commitment, we were very clear it would be through the International Monetary Fund and there would have to be specific safeguards with respect to ensuring the money was used for the benefit of the Ukrainian people and not with respect to the problems they have had in the past, in the former government, with corruption.”

The Ukraine Embassy said on Thursday Prystaiko was not available for interviews to explain his remarks, because of the abrupt resignation that day of Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

“In this regard, Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko left for consultations and is currently out of the country,” the embassy said in a statement.

UN ambassador responds

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, remained on the job this week.

In an interview with The House guest host Rosemary Barton, Sergeyev said his country needs more support from the international community, including financial, political and administrative assistance to help the government enact reforms. He would also like to see more assistance for the military, law enforcement and the army, which he said had been destroyed by previous administrations.

"The assistance we got in the past, it's very important, political and moral assistance, including here in the United Nations, I felt this help from the Canadian delegation, from other delegations,” he said. “So the assistance with materials and financial assistance was very important. But now it's obvious the Ukraine needs more help," he said.

Government still stable

Sergeyev sought to allay concerns the resignation of Ukraine’s prime minister could be a signal of further instability.

“The government has not resigned, the government is working. In the time being we have the acting prime minister, who used to be the deputy prime minister,” he said.

Canada and other countries continue to strengthen sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian businesses and individuals, but Sergeyev said that if Russia and Russian separatist forces in Ukraine continue with their belligerence, stronger steps will be needed.

Calling for an embargo

“[Enlarging] sanctions, more sectoral sanctions in the strategic areas of the Russian industry, gas, oil, military production, up to the full embargo," he said.

Baird expressed uncertainty about the international community going so far as a full embargo, but did agree further sanctions are being considered.

“It is unacceptable in 2014 for one leader in the Kremlin to think he can redraw the borders and boundaries of Europe unilaterally through military force,” Baird said.