Ukraine should remain neutral against Russia, says Danielle Smith
Danielle Smith's remarks about the war in Ukraine this spring provoked an outcry.
New Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is facing a barrage of criticism after her controversial comments about the war in Ukraine resurfaced. She believes that Ukraine should remain neutral in the conflict with Russia and allow some of its pro-Russian regions to secede.
In a video posted live in April 2022, two months after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Danielle Smith says she believes the solution should have been, from the start, for Ukraine to remain neutral and it denuclearizes.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union did have nuclear weapons in what is now Ukraine. However, since the collapse of the communist bloc, Ukraine signed a treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and transferred them to Moscow during the 1990s. It has not had any since 2001.
Furthermore, while Ukraine has been ideologically getting closer to the West for years, it only made a formal application for NATO membership this fall, more six months after the Russian invasion of its territory. Russia also forcibly annexed several of its regions in 2014 and fighting has continued there ever since.
According to several media, Danielle Smith also relayed conspiracy theories on social networks in the spring, in particular about American funding of biomedical laboratories in Ukraine. She also asserts that if any Ukrainian regions have affinities with Russia, they should be able to separate and govern themselves independently.
Danielle Smith also seems to be suggesting that NATO and the x27;Ukraine may be partly responsible for the Russian invasion.
Deputy Alberta New Democratic Party Leader Sarah Hoffman called on Danielle Smith to apologize for her comments.
“Telling Kyiv and Ukrainians to be neutral as they fight for their lives, try to defend themselves, their sovereignty and their families, is incredibly wrong, disrespectful and downright cruel.
— Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party
Former Alberta Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk, who has been heavily involved in Ukraine support efforts in Alberta, believes the comments reveal Danielle Smith's populist tactics to motivate her partisan base.
It is a coded message for her supporters, because she tries to present herself as part of this movement that goes against facts, democratic institutions and norms. She makes these comments to inflame her very radical political base, he accuses.
I don't believe she made those comments because she is ignorant. I think she does it consciously and it's not the first time. She did it on vaccination and many other issues, he continues.
Thomas Lukaszuk says that since these comments were updated this weekend , he saw and received hundreds of messages supporting Russia and condemning Ukraine, which was not the case before Smith's intervention.
Olex Vasetsky, a Ukrainian who has lived in Canada for 15 years, believes that the Prime Minister was not trying to be disrespectful, but that she did not fully understand the reality on the ground and is vulnerable to Russian propaganda.
He invites him to meet the Ukrainian community to better understand it and its history.
The Ukrainian World Congress did not respond to our interview requests.
When asked about these criticisms, Premier Danielle Smith's office pointed us to a statement she made on Sunday, in which she did not apologize. Instead, she calls on the NDP to stop politicizing the issue and reiterates her beliefs.
My Ukrainian great-grandfather, Philipis Kolodnycky, fled communism and immigrated to Canada after the World War I, when he changed his name to Smith. I deeply cherish and value my Ukrainian heritage. My political beliefs are shaped largely by my deep mistrust of the socialism my great-grandfather fled, she writes.
She adds that she asked the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs tell him how to better support Ukrainian refugees on Alberta soil.