While Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland traveled the world raising the alarm over the threat of white nationalism, Global Affairs Canada quietly funded and trained the neo-Nazi infiltrated National Police of Ukraine (NPU)
The NPU, which was established in 2015 as part of former President Petro Poroshenko’s post-Euromaidan reforms, was meant to replace the corrupt Militsiya of the former regime.
Shortly after the new police service was created, Stéphane Dion, Canada’s-then-Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced an $8.1 million donation to fund the newly-established NPU. $1.5 million of which was intended to be put towards better equipping the police force.
Since the beginning of the Ukrainian Civil War in 2014, Canada has been one of Ukraine’s most vocal and committed allies in their fight against Russian-backed Eastern separatists.
“We are working closely with the National Police of Ukraine to transform Ukraine’s police service into an effective, accountable and community-focused institution that embodies public trust,” said Dion in a statement about the initiative.
The project, which was titled “Supporting Police Training in Ukraine (SPTU)” would involve training Ukrainian police forces, establishing up to date police academies, and “increase awareness of gender and human rights considerations.” Its intended end date was January 31st of this year.
According to the RCMP operations website, up to 45 Canadian police officers were deployed to Ukraine in order to take part in the program since 2015. At the same time, top Ukrainian police officers traveled to Canada to partake in training operations within the country.
Despite Canada’s interest in promoting human rights among Ukraine’s national police force, the NPU has worried human rights organizations due to its suspected ties to far-right extremism and infiltration by neo-Nazi sympathizers.
On June 14, 2018, while the SPTU project was still active, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a joint letter calling on Ukrainian authorities “to strongly condemn and effectively address attacks and intimidation by radical groups that are promoting hatred and discrimination.”
The statement, which was addressed in part to Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov, who oversees Ukraine’s policing, also detailed four particular instances where violent extremists disrupted, intimidated, or assaulted peaceful protestors or minorities.
In one instance from March 8th, 2018, HRW describes how “members of radical groups attacked the participants of the Women’s March in Kyiv, physically assaulting them and using pepper spray. The police officers present at the scene merely observed the attacks and took no steps to stop them or detain them.”
Another more disturbing case involved members of the violent neo-Nazi C14 group chasing down Roma women and children with rocks and pepper spray after having burnt down their tents. In total, HRW cites “at least two dozen” violent attacks in which police authorities have stood down or failed to properly investigate.
Two years before the incidents reported by HRW, Minister Avakov announced the appointment of Vadym Troyan to the post of acting Chief of the National Police. The appointment effectively made Troyan the top individual in charge of carrying out the NPU reforms up until the appointment of Serhiy Knyazev on February 8th, 2017. Alongside the police chief role, Troyan also worked under Avakov as the Head of the Minister of Internal Affairs for the Kiev region, where the anti-feminist attacks took place.
Troyan, who has climbed the ranks of power steadily since the Euromaidan riots as a competent soldier, has well-documented affiliations with Neo-Nazi and far right groups operating in Ukraine.
According to a report by The Jerusalem Post, Troyan was an active leader in both the Azov Battalion and a white nationalist organization called ‘Patriot of Ukraine’.
‘Patriot of Ukraine’ was a paramilitary Neo-Nazi group founded in 2005 with the intention of creating a national-socialist state in Ukraine. Members of the group have been responsible for a number of violent attacks and hate crimes against minorities in Ukraine. Shortly after the beginning of the Ukrainian Civil War, the group was disbanded in 2014 and many of its members merged to form the Azov Battalion.
Azov which has been called “openly Neo-Nazi” by the New York Times is a “special operations detachment” which legally operates as a branch of the National Guard of Ukraine. The battalion has been cited by both Human Rights Watch and the United Nations for human rights abuses including torturing prisoners and looting of civilian properties.
“Credible allegations emerged of torture and other egregious abuses by Ukraine’s so-called volunteer battalions Aidar and Azov,” claimed a report by HRW.
“In our opinion, this guy should not be anywhere near law enforcement,” said Kyiv’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich in 2014 about Troyan’s appointment as police chief in Kyiv.
However, beyond Troyan’s own extremist affiliations, many in Ukraine’s NPU have expressed widespread support for a known Nazi collaborator.
As recently as 2019, police officers have been mass-identifying as “Banderites” in support of Stephen Bandera, a WWII Nazi collaborator and extreme Ukrainian nationalist who massacred Jews and Poles.
“I apologize. I am a Banderite, too! Glory to Ukraine!” wrote Troyan’s replacement, Serhiy Knyazev.
Despite the worrying concerns about the extremist attitudes among certain Ukrainian law enforcement officials, Canada’s involvement with the country has only deepened since the election of Justin Trudeau in 2015.
Under the direction of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Canada has expanded its involvement in the civil conflict to include “lethal aid”.
Originally, when Canada became involved in the Ukrainian conflict, the Harper government limited Canada’s involvement to non-lethal aid after facing push-back from human rights groups.
After coming into power, the Liberal government has extended Canada’s involvement in the country to include small-arms and sniper rifle deals.
That privilege was further extended to include Canadian-made .50 caliber sniper rifles in 2018.
Since these deals, very few details have been released by the Canadian government on the extent of Canada’s arms deals with Ukraine.
In 2018, when pressed by journalists to reveal further information about Ukrainian arms sales, Global Affairs Canada refused to provide a straight answer.
“Each permit application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure its consistency with Canada’s international obligations and foreign policy and defence priorities,” said spokesman John Babcock. “For reasons of commercial confidentiality, the department does not comment on any applications for export permits.”
To this day, Canadians have yet to be provided with information about Canada’s involvement in Ukraine or to what extent taxpayer resources have been used to fund Neo-Nazi affiliated groups or individuals in Ukraine.