By John Helmer, Moscow
Interview broadcast by Global Research Radio News Hour, with Michael Welch, from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Interview starts at Min. 7:23; ends at Min. 29
And click to listen to the second broadcast on April 7:
Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lubiniecki has been the commander of the Canadian military mission in western Ukraine since March. The location of his Canadian base at Starichy is as far west as it’s possible to be from the war front in the Donbass, before the Canadians would be camping on Polish soil.
Like Chrystia Freeland (lead image), Canada’s Foreign Minister, Colonel Lubiniecki’s family is from this region known as Galicia (also as Volhynia). Instead of training local soldiers and giving speeches at cadet graduation ceremonies in Ukraine, Lubiniecki should be called back to Canada to explain what he is doing, and for whose benefit. Is the Canadian colonel training Galicians to fire rocket-propelled grenades at Polish targets?
Foreign Minister Freeland, appointed on January 10, was planning to make her debut at the NATO alliance conference of foreign ministers in Brussels last Friday. If the meeting had gone according to Freeland’s plan, she would have shaken the hand of Rex Tillerson, the new US Secretary of State, also making his debut at NATO; and promoted herself at the forefront of the Atlantic alliance’s war against Russia.
Instead, Tillerson ignored Freeland. She was consigned to a corner of the formal meeting photograph, at the extreme right of her counterparts from Lithuania and Albania.
Source: NATO -- http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_142678.htm
More important politically, Freeland was upstaged from Toronto by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
Before Freeland could speak to the Canadian media from NATO headquarters, Trudeau announced that Canada is doing enough for the military alliance and does not intend to raise its defence spending, as demanded by the US. “Canada has always done more than its share in NATO and we will continue,” Trudeau was reported as saying by the Toronto Globe and Mail. The newspaper, a booster for Freeland who represents a Toronto city constituency in parliament, led with the headline: “Trudeau stands firm amid fresh calls from U.S. for NATO spending boost”.
That’s Trudeau’s political code for Freeland to tone down her advocacy of escalating warfighting capacities against Russia, and let the prime minister do the policy-making instead. For details of Freeland’s promotion of her family’s Galician homeland, and its claims to expanded territory and power in the Ukraine, read this.
Political sources in Ottawa confirm that after weeks of media criticism of Freeland’s involvement in the Ukraine, Trudeau has yet to issue a personal word of support for Freeland. Instead, the sources claim Trudeau’s staff and members of Trudeau’s council of foreign policy advisors are recommending the prime minister reclaim centre stage and tone Freeland down. The mainstream Canadian media have yet to corroborate the shift.
Freeland’s maiden appearance was not only snubbed by Tillerson and Trudeau. She was almost ignored by the Polish Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski. The two met briefly on the sidelines of the day-long NATO session. The Polish Foreign Ministry communique referred to Freeland as an amuse-bouche before lunch. “On the occasion of his visit to Brussels, the head of Polish diplomacy also held a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings, He talked with his counterparts from Turkey and Canada and took part in the Luncheon of NATO Foreign Ministers with the attendance of the Heads of MFAs [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] of Sweden and Finland and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, [Federica] Mogherini.”
Freeland tweeted with a picture which Waszczykowski omitted from his statement.
Exactly what they discussed about “#Ukraine” was clarified by Waszczykowski, after he had met the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, “with whom he also discussed the circumstances of the attack on the Polish consulate in Lutsk and the security of Polish diplomats in Ukraine… We also talked about how to strengthen not only our diplomatic and consular facilities but also the national memory, Minister Waszczykowski concluded.”
Waszczykowski was referring to the spate of attacks on Polish targets in the Galician region of northwestern Ukraine, bordering Poland. Desecration of Polish cemeteries began in January, with graffiti identifying with the Ukrainian volunteer division organized by the German occupation in 1943 and known as the SS-Freiwilligen Division Galizien.
In its cover story this week, the Polish weekly magazine Do Rzeczy (“To the Point”) illustrates one of the attacks at a Polish war graves memorial in western Ukraine. Reporter Maciej Pieczyński concluded: “Ukraine is stirring up such emotions in Poland that it is difficult to treat it exclusively as a sanitary cordon against Russia”.
The anti-Polish attacks escalated with the firing of a rocket-propelled grenade at the Polish consulate office in Lutsk on the evening of March 28; one person was injured. Waszczykowski summoned the Ukrainian ambassador in Warsaw to protest, and ordered all Polish consulates in Ukraine closed until Ukrainian investigations identify the perpetrators, and install security measures. Ukrainian officials claimed the attack was a provocation by Russian agents.
Lutsk is 80 kilometres due east of the Polish frontier. It is 181 kms northeast of the regional capital of Lviv (Lvov). West, between Lviv and the Polish border town of Przemysl is a distance of 100 kms. Local demonstrations have been held in recent weeks claiming Przemysl as Ukrainian territory, and supporting a ban on entry of the current mayor of Przemysl. Between Przemysl and Lviv are the Canadian military base of Starichy and the US military base of Yavoriv (Jaworow in Polish), just 20 kms from each othe. The area was a killing ground in which Ukrainians and Germans murdered thousands of Poles and Jews between 1941 and 1944.
Freeland has ignored the deteriorating relations between Ukraine and Poland. Instead, after meeting Klimkin, she tweeted:
In Warsaw public opinion has begun calling on Waszczykowski and his government colleagues to take a tougher stand. One member of parliament (Sejm) has publicly attacked the government for failing to deal with the attacks and for responding to Kiev “on its knees” — in that posture “unable to defend the interests of the Third Republic of Poland.”
Polish analyst Stanislas Balcerac has reported in his influential Warsaw blog that with Freeland’s promotion to the Canadian foreign ministry, “Galicia is back”. After retelling the wartime history of Ukrainian attempts to expand Galician territory with German assistance to liquidate the Polish, Jewish and Russian-speaking populations, Balerac warned: “for the first time in the history of Poland in NATO, we are dealing with the minister of a large NATO member country, who supports the [Ukrainian fascist] policy towards Poland and the tradition of the Waffen SS Galizien. Some people seemed to think that when we entered NATO, we caught hold of God’s feet [received divine protection]… It is significant that three years after the victory of democracy in Ukraine, Polish diplomatic missions must now be protected by the military. [Freeland’s] Grandfather Chomiak is smiling in his grave. While everyone is looking at Russia, we are in big trouble in Galicia.”
The government in Warsaw has yet to fill the vacancy at its embassy in Ottawa by appointing a new Polish ambassador to Canada, or to issue a statement on Freeland’s association with past and present attacks on Polish sovereignty in Galicia.
Following Trudeau’s put-down last week from Toronto, Freeland told Canadian state radio that she is now keen to meet her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at a meeting of Arctic region ministers next month. Radio Canada International reported this was “a sudden about-face” on Freeland’s part.
“I believe that Sergey Lavrov will be there”, Freeland (right) said, “and that would be a very valuable opportunity for all Arctic countries very much, including Canada, to talk about our shared interests in the Arctic region… And I would be absolutely prepared to have a bilateral meeting with Sergey Lavrov at Arctic Council if that works for both of our schedules.” In the same presser, Freeland claimed she already had had an opportunity to “chat” with Lavrov last November on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Lima, Peru.
Freeland is correcting a lie she had broadcast to the Canadian press in January, shortly after her promotion was announced by Trudeau. According to Freeland then, “I’ve spoken with the top guy [President Vladimir Putin] in Russia quite recently. We spoke in Russian and we had quite a long conversation.” The Kremlin responded that no such conversation had taken place, a spokesman for the president adding: “Vladimir Putin did not have a meeting with Freeland.” For more, read this.
In the Russian Foreign Ministry’s record of Lavrov’s conversations at APEC last November, and the entire ministry archive for Freeland, there is also no mention of a “chat” between Lavrov and Freeland. A source at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Berlin in February notes that Freeland and Lavrov were seated at opposite ends of the conference table, but “eye contact between them cannot be ruled out. Since Freeland is sanctioned, it is unlikely Lavrov would intend even that.”
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