An international crisis of the type that is now unfolding in Ukraine, and in the ethnic -Russian-majority Crimea region, certainly has a lot of external players wondering just how they can take advantage of the situation to win some much-needed political capital.
While not the most obvious, there are two countries that could use this situation to the benefit if they play their cards wisely: Belarus and Canada.
For Belarus, one might think that one of the world’s last surviving—and extremely colorful—dictators would be squirming under the discomfort of the success of Ukraine’s Maidan protest movement at ousting pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Instead, Lukashenko is using this to score some points with the European Union on his own terms, and to gain a little more wiggle room from Russia.
Back in January, Lukashenko made his first move in the form of a public statement against Yanukovych: “It’s a nightmare, a catastrophe. As soon as the president’s children engage in business and his mistresses start to wear crowns—expect trouble.” This was is poke at corruption in Ukraine—his message to the West—even before Yanukovych was ousted. It’s rich coming from Lukashenko, but he had foresight on this one.
Then, in February, Lukashenko made another clear statement on Ukraine: “They have their own problems. Maidan is not new to us. This is not the first time it has happened, and you know I still have good relations with the original leaders of Maidan, Yushchenko and others. We have a singular view of Ukraine. It should be integral, nobody should divide this great country.”
Then we have Canada, which is certainly eyeing the opportunity here to render a favor for a favor—and what it wants most is approval of Keystone XL, which is turning into a drama of Hollywood proportions.
Canada’s playing card here is if we start talking about sanctions against Russia—for real. As columnist Chris Nelson point out in the Calgary Herald: “If you are going to make Russia squeal, you have to do it through energy embargoes and you might have to lift that export ban to balance that move. Where to replace the supplies?”
And this is where Canada comes in—on the supply level, and it might be hoping that Keystone XL approval would be considered a nice trade-off for its support.
There are more than 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent—which translates into a lot of voting power. As such, Canada may not be able to stem the tide of its own support for Ukraine against perceived Russian aggression.
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By. James Stafford of Oilprice.com