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Senators’ Statements — Ukraine--Russia's Actions

Honourable senators, here is a letter to Igor Shuvalov:

I am writing to you as a friend and former colleague to convey my strong opposition to the offensive actions undertaken by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine. Our work together in the mid-2000s seems far from the aggression, the violation of international law and the destruction visited on Ukraine in recent days. I recall fondly your work as the President’s Personal Representative and lead Sherpa for the St. Petersburg summit of 2006. Our visits to various parts of Russia, our discussions of the important political and economic issues of the day were enriched by your perspectives and experience.

I remember vividly my visit to your office at the time. It had been the office of Leonid Brezhnev in the former building of the Soviet Communist Party. You took delight in showing me the electronic buttons on the side of your desk, a relic of Brezhnev’s time. You pushed a button and the curtains on the side wall opened, another button pushed and down rolled a map of the USSR and a display of where the nuclear war heads of that time were located and then a third button and down rolled a map indicating where Soviet troops were stationed across the Warsaw Pact. We spoke of how this era of Cold War was passed and welcomed Russian participation in the G-8 and other multilateral institutions. You then took me down the hall, just a few steps from your office to a large, oak panelled boardroom with a mammoth rectangular table which could seat several dozen officials. On entering you stated that this was the room where the fateful decision was taken to invade Afghanistan in December of 1979. A decision we agreed, which significantly contributed to the demise of the old Soviet Union ten years later. The occupation not only led to the loss of many lives but imposed economic hardship which could not be justified or sustained. We also spoke of Ukraine. I told you how my parents left Ukraine in 1924 to come to Canada and as to my remaining relatives, Stalin had taken care of them. You spoke fondly of Ukraine and how they were your “cousins”.

Igor, it seems so very long ago. The era of hope has gone. The Cold War tensions have returned. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is underway. I don’t know how the coming days will unfold, but I do know that this bloodshed isn’t what one does to cousins.

This is not the time to argue about how we got to this state. There will be a time for that and I’m sure we could both agree that there have been missed opportunities for diplomacy.

What I do know though is that our successors will one day visit the Kremlin, as I did in 2006, and will be shown by then former President Putin’s office and be told that this is where that fateful decision was taken to invade Ukraine with the terrible consequences that have unfolded since. That day may not be soon, but it will surely come.

While you are no longer the First Deputy Prime Minister, I know that your voice continues to be heard, especially on international economic issues. Now as Chairman of State Development Corporation, I urge you to raise your voice to put an end to this invasion of a sovereign country, especially one with the familial and historical relations we both share.

Our children and grandchildren deserve better of us.

Sincerely, Peter