An international relations expert is warning that the attacks on Ukraine by Russian forces will lead to dire consequences unless the leaders of other nations change how they deal with Russia – and that includes Canada.

Russia is in the midst of invading Ukraine from land, sea and air, zeroing in on cities and military targets.

Aurel Braun is a professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto, as well as an associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Harvard University. He says so far, leaders in countries like the U.S. have used tactics that are too soft, which is why Russia is escalating its presence in the Ukraine.

Domestically, Canada is close to Ukraine because of the large diaspora that live here.

When it comes to our role in the current situation, Canada has sent $7.8 million for lethal military equipment, which Braun says would add up to roughly three hours of ammunition. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a first round of sanctions against Russia and more troops have been sent to Europe. About 400 Canadian troops have been stationed in Latvia for the last several years, which Braun says puts Canada closer to the frontlines.

Another thing to consider is Canada’s geographical position across the Atlantic Ocean from Russia. The Arctic has become an important and contested area, thanks to its vast natural resources – 20 to 30 per cent of the world’s hydrocarbons are there. It’s also an incredibly fragile ecological area, so that if an accident were to occur there, it would be catastrophic.

Though Canada has banned any exploration in most areas of the Arctic, Russia has moved full steam ahead with exploration, since 60 per cent of their exports are hydrocarbons.

“They’re not restrained by the Glasgow or Paris Agreements,” says Braun. “They’ve paid lip service to it, but in reality they’ve disregarded it…any accident would have horrific effects to the Canadian Arctic coastline.”

Russia has militarized the Arctic since it’s becoming more of a strategic area for them, which directly affects Canada.

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