In The Media

Canadian, Russian officials set aside differences to talk terrorism

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Ferry de Kerckhove)

The Canadian Press
June 16, 2017

OTTAWA — The Canadian government hosted talks with counter-terrorism officials from Russia this week despite persistent tensions between the two countries.

The discussions were held Thursday in Ottawa, the first such meeting in years after Canada suspended much of its contact with the Russian government because of the latter country's actions in Ukraine.

Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Natasha Nystrom described the meeting as "an exchange of perspectives" between senior counter-terrorism officials from both countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the fight against terrorism a priority for his country, which saw 16 people killed when a suicide bomber struck the St. Petersburg subway system in April.

A group with links to al-Qaida claimed responsibility.

The Russian leader has also asked for closer co-operation between his country and the West in fighting terrorists, most recently in the wake of the deadly London Bridge stabbing earlier this month.

Nystrom played down any significance to Thursday's meeting, saying Canadian officials "regularly engage with other governments, including Russia, about how to combat global terrorism.

"Our engagement with Russia is focused on Canada's national interests," she added, "be they in the Arctic, counter-terrorism, or other international security issues."

Russia and Canada share concerns about the threat posed by terrorists on many fronts, not least when it comes to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Moscow reported Friday that it was investigating whether one of its airstrikes in Syria had killed the reclusive leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump also agreed during a telephone call in May to work more closely in the fight against terrorism.

One Russian official, speaking on background because he wasn't authorized to comment publicly, described Thursday's meetings as a positive development in his country's ties with Canada.

There have been allegations that Putin's call for closer co-operation in the fight against terrorism is intended to divert attention away from Russia's actions in Eastern Europe and other places.

But former Canadian diplomat Ferry de Kerckhove said terrorism is a real concern for Russia given its proximity to such hot spots as the Middle East and Asia, and that Canada could learn a lot from it.

"The Russians have a lot of expertise," said de Kerckhove, who now teaches international affairs at the University of Ottawa. "We may not like their methods, but there is a lot they can teach us."

There are key areas in the fight against terrorism where the Canada and Russia are at odds with each other — none of which is more evident than in Syria.

Russia has been actively supporting President Bashar al-Assad in what the Kremlin describes as the Syrian dictator's campaign against terrorism.

But Canada and other western countries have alleged that Russia is protecting Assad while his regime launches indiscriminate attacks against civilians, not terrorists.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went so far as to suggest that Russia was partly to blame after the Assad regime used chemical weapons in an attack against a town in April, killing dozens of people.

Russian and Syrian officials blamed rebel groups, which they have labelled terrorists, for the attacks.

de Kerckhove acknowledged that there are areas of disagreement between Canada and Russia when it comes to terrorism, especially in Syria.

But he emphasized the advantages of talking to each, especially given shared concerns that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's defeat in the Middle East will see extremists return to their home countries.

"How many (ISIL) people will be returning to their country under a different guise?" de Kerckhove said. "How can we co-operate and ensure their identities. And I think that's a valid discussion."


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
SEARCH
PODCAST

The Future of North American Trade: Assessing the USMCA

October 13, 2018

On today's Global Exchange Podcast, we convene our roster of North American trade experts to discuss the newly signed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Join host Colin Robertson in discussion with Eric Miller, Laura Dawson, Sarah Goldfeder, and Larry Herman, as they discuss the pros and cons of the new deal, as well as what happens next.



EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Saudi Arabia’s spat with Canada was a lesson. Trump ignored it.

by Emily Rauhala (feat. Thomas Juneau), The Washington Post, October 17, 2018

Oilpatch scrambles to ship ‘distressed barrels’ as industry loses $100 million in revenues daily

by Geoffrey Morgan (feat. Kevin Birn), Financial Post, October 16, 2018

Donald Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 ‘poison pill’ won’t work in Asia, say experts

by Jacob Greber (feat. Hugh Stephens), Financial Review, October 16, 2018

Feds aiming to select preferred design for $60B warships by end of month

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Dave Perry), The Canadian Press, October 16, 2018

Ex-ambassador delivers aggressive defence of Saudi arms deal

by Murray Brewster (feat. Thomas Juneau), CBC News, October 16, 2018

Trump gains power over Canada, Mexico Trade

by Sabrina Rodriguez (feat. Sarah Goldfeder), Politico, October 15, 2018

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

by James McCarten (feat. Colin Robertson), The Canadian Press, October 15, 2018

Louise Mushikiwabo remplace la Canadienne Michaëlle Jean à la tête de la francophonie

by Claire Gillet (feat. Jocelyn Coulon), L’Express, October 12, 2018


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: contact@cgai.ca
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2018 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email