Canadian Ambassador Dedicates to Bolstering Ukraine’s Security and Future EU Inclusion

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When Natalka Cmoc, the freshly appointed Canadian ambassador, arrived in Kyiv last month, she was immediately struck by a haunting reminder of her past work in Ukraine during the 1990s. The sight of locals bearing the scars of war, many missing limbs, took her back to the time when thousands of soldiers were returning to the newly liberated country from the Soviet Union’s military campaign in Afghanistan.

Cmoc’s ties to the country are as deep as they are personal. Having lived in Ukraine multiple times since it gained independence in 1991, she expressed a profound desire for Ukraine to prosper. Stationed in the heart of Kyiv at the Canadian embassy, where she began her annual term on August 15, Cmoc has already adjusted to the unsettling rhythm of air-raid sirens frequently reverberating through the city.

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Her role in Ukraine is twofold. In the short term, she is tasked with backing Ukraine’s immediate defence and security needs while actively opposing all forms of Russian aggression. This often involves consultations with her counterparts from the other G7 countries based in Kyiv.

Meanwhile, the longer-term objective revolves around preparing Ukraine for potential inclusion in the European Union and NATO military alliance. Integral to this ambition is the provision of support for internal reforms, infrastructure rebuilding, and humanitarian aid. To ensure a smooth collaboration between Ottawa and Kyiv, Cmoc is responsible for coordinating efforts on various fronts.

Reports from Western allies suggest Ukraine is making advances in its counteroffensive, an approach Cmoc identifies as reflective of a NATO military strategy aimed at curbing casualties. The strategy starkly contrasts Russia’s ruthless approach to combat.

However, Canada’s assistance transcends mere military aid, envisaging the establishment of a more democratic, environmentally-friendly Ukraine. With diplomatic staff rotations scheduled for August, Cmoc hopes the embassy will be fully staffed by October.

Among responsibilities ranging from monitoring mine-removal projects to financing women’s participation in politics and business, her team will be working to prevent an ecological and nuclear disaster brought on by the war at the energy plants. This work will involve partnering with Canada’s atomic-safety experts.

Cmoc highlighted the region of Kherson as an example of Ukraine’s forthcoming, large-scale reconstruction in the aftermath of the war. Hit by flooding in June following the destruction of a large dam, Kherson is being assisted by countries like Canada with the restoration of farm equipment, and the access to safe water and energy for the winter.

Canada, along with other countries, is also working on technical guidance for Ukraine to become an attractive destination for private-sector investments post-war. Cmoc underlines the importance of creating a transparent investment climate, a matter she deems a top priority at every governmental level.

Prior to her diplomatic appointment, Cmoc’s extensive career spanned various federal departments in Ottawa, though she always maintained close ties to Ukraine, where she conducted archaeological fieldwork and trained locals as part of her undergraduate studies. Throughout her tenure as a public servant, she was part of Canada’s peace and stabilization operations program, lending support to post-conflict societies such as Iraq and Sudan.

Despite leaving her family behind in Canada, a common circumstance for diplomats assigned to “hardship postings”, Cmoc has found inspiration in the unity forged among Ukrainians by the war. Everywhere, however, the impact of war is apparent; memorials to those fallen in the 2014 pro-democracy protests and those killed by Russian forces decorate Kyiv’s main square, a sight that Cmoc refers to as a tragic influx of a new generation wounded by war.

Cmoc expressed honour in serving in the country of her ancestral roots, where she is fluent in the language and where the sentiment towards Canada is generally warm. However, disagreements, including Ukraine’s request for a no-fly zone and a disconcertment with the US decision to send Ukraine cluster bombs have surfaced. Moreover, the impending issue of long-term prospects for the six million Ukrainians estimated to be living abroad, including 175,000 individuals who have found refuge in Canada, remain a concern for Kyiv.

In parallel, Cmoc reveals Canada’s intention to strengthen its involvement in anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, providing training for judges and forensic auditors as part of this commitment.

“We challenge Ukraine; we support Ukraine.” Cmoc stated, succinctly summarizing the complex relationship between the two nations, as they work together to build a brighter future.