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 the “Special Partnership”, renewed in 2001, and again in 2008, recognizes Canada's support for the development of Ukraine and the importance of our bilateral cooperation.
Canada and Ukraine cooperate in a range of international organizations, including the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and La Francophonie.
Canada is represented in Ukraine by the Embassy of Canada in Kyiv and the Consulate of Canada in Lviv. Ukraine is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa. Ukraine also has a Consulate General in Toronto and an Honorary Consulate in Vancouver.
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 ongoing and important reform efforts.
In coordination with partners and allies, Canada has imposed sanctions against more than 270 Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities. Since January 2014, Canada has also announced more than $700 million in much-needed assistance to Ukraine, including $400 million in low interest loans to help Ukraine stabilize its economy and over $240 million in bilateral development assistance focusing on democracy, the rule of law, and sustainable economic growth. Canada sent approximately 300 observers each to monitor the May 2014 Presidential elections and the October 2014 parliamentary elections. Canada is also deploying 25 monitors to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. In terms of bilateral security support to Ukraine, Canada has contributed over $16 million in non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine’s armed forces. In addition, we have deployed approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to Ukraine until March 31, 2017, to develop and deliver training and capacity-building programmes for the Ukrainian forces. Canada has also contributed $1M to the NATO Trust Funds for Ukraine.
Development and Humanitarian Assistance
Ukraine is one of 25 countries of focus for Canada’s development assistance. Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, Canada has provided over $493 million in development assistance support to Ukraine. During and following Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity”, Canada has expedited and substantially increased support to Ukraine in the areas of advancing democracy and sustainable economic growth.
The goal of Canadian bilateral development assistance in Ukraine is to improve economic opportunities for Ukrainians 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 the following areas: democracy and governance, macroeconomic and financial sector management, civil society development, prevention of human trafficking, legal, law enforcement and judicial reform, agriculture, decentralization and local economic development, SME development, media freedom, and the promotion and protection of human rights, including religious freedom. In addition to contributing to numerous bilateral and multilateral electoral observation missions, Canada has consistently supported electoral system capacity-building in Ukraine.
Canada is also supporting Canadian and international humanitarian organizations to respond to the humanitarian needs of conflict-affected people in eastern Ukraine.
Military and Defense Cooperation
In addition to the 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed to Ukraine to deliver training and capacity-building programmes until March 31, 2017, Canadian Armed Forces cooperate 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 increasingly the course offerings to Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. Ukraine is currently the largest participant in Canada’s MTCP.
Through the G8-led 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 Chornobyl Shelter Fund), the redirection of former weapons scientists through the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine (STCU), and border security. Between 2003 and 2012 Canada provided Ukraine with over $57.5 million for nuclear and radiological safety and security, and over $20 million to help redirect the work of former weapons scientists towards peaceful pursuits.
Trade and Investment
Canada and Ukraine enjoy positive commercial relations, and in Canada’s Global Market Access Plan, Ukraine is designated a priority emerging market with specific opportunities for Canadian businesses.
In 2014, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Ukraine decreased to $244 million, compared to $322 million in 2013. Canada’s 2014 merchandise exports totalled $145 million, down from $210 million in 2013. Top exports included mineral fuels and oils, fish and seafood, pharmaceuticals, meat and machinery. Canada’s merchandise imports dropped from $113 million in 2013 to $99 million in 2014, with top imports consisting of mineral fuels and oils, iron and steel products, fertilizers, and woven apparel.
While bilateral commercial relations are good, there is much room to expand commercial relations between Canada and Ukraine. Ukraine continues to be a promising market for agrifood products, fish, and seafood. Given Ukraine’s significant unconventional oil and gas deposits, there is increased interest in these sectors as well. In addition, Ukrainian students continue to come to Canada to study at Canadian universities.
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. The conclusion of negotiations of a Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) between Canada and Ukraine was announced during a visit to Canada by Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in July 2015.
High Levels Visits and Bilateral Agreements
Prime Minister Trudeau met for the first time with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in November 2015 on the margins of COP21. Minister Dion and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Klimkin met on the margins of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in early December 2015. Minister Dion visited Ukraine from January 31 – February 1, 2016 and met with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and Foreign Minister Klimkin.
There have been many high-level visits between Canada and Ukraine. Canada’s former Prime Minister travelled to Ukraine four times between 2013 and 2015.
President Poroshenko visited Ottawa in September 2014 and delivered an address to Parliament. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was in Canada in July 2015, while Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin visited in Ottawa in April 2015 and Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture Oleksiy Pavlenko visited in March 2015.
The two countries have signed a variety of agreements and memoranda of understanding covering such areas as trade, technical cooperation, defense and mutual legal assistance.