Over the past two decades, Russian armed forces have undertaken an unprecedented militarization of the Arctic, refurbishing and constructing dozens of bases to enhance offensive capabilities. Russia now has a third more Arctic military bases than NATO, and experts suggest that it will take at least 10 years for NATO to catch up.
The official Russian 2035 Arctic strategy advises preparation for Arctic conflict and expansion of its Arctic territory. In 2021, Russia submitted acclaim to all of the resources under the Arctic Sea up to Canada’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. In late December, Russia’s naval commander-in-chief, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, said in a speech that the Kremlin is prioritizing a “full-scale takeover” of Arctic territories beyond Russia’s exclusive economic zone.
Our failure to acknowledge these very clear and serious warnings could cost us billions in the future — let alone the lives of Canadians who have committed to defending our nation.
Ukraine’s ability to defeat Putin’s armies will determine the long-term cost to Canada and its allies in re-establishing our collective deterrence, and in the worst case, the defence of our collective sovereignty against an attack by Russia. Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, has warned that if Ukraine is unable to defeat Russia, “there’s a chance that Russia might not be contained in Ukraine.”
The window to help Ukraine restore its sovereignty and defeat Russia is limited.
Canada must immediately ramp up domestic production of armaments and partner with our allies to produce precision weapons. This will help bolster Canada’s defence capabilities.
Canada is not a helpless middle power. Our economy is larger than Russia’s and combined with our G7 allies, we have the resources to stand up to Putin’s petulant transnational bullying.
The longer Putin’s war continues, the higher the cost for everyone, even in indirect ways like fuel and grocery prices. Canadians grappling with the higher cost of living over the past two years should direct their frustration toward those responsible, namely through the Russian Embassy in Ottawa.
Canada’s long-term security and prosperity are directly linked to Ukraine’s ability to successfully defend itself and restore its sovereignty by defeating Putin’s armies. Turning our backs on Ukraine and allowing Putin to succeed will lead to a world in perpetual conflict, for which all Canadians will be forced to pay a steep personal and collective price.
Marcus Kolga is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and director of DisinfoWatch