Halifax Security Forum addresses need for victory in Ukraine

Russian aggression was top of the agenda at the Halifax International Security Forum

4 min read
caption Defence Minister Bill Blair delivers opening remarks at the Halifax International Security Forum on Friday.
Victoria Brzezinski-Szadzianis

Defeating Russia in Ukraine is vitally important for the whole world, an annual security forum in Halifax heard over the weekend.

“The simple truth is that when Putin fails in Ukraine, solving all global issues will become easier,” said Halifax International Security Forum president Peter Van Praagh.

During the forum’s opening press conference on Nov. 17, Van Praagh addressed the importance of Ukraine’s victory against Russia.

The 15th annual edition of the forum was held over the weekend at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel in Halifax. Founded in 2009, the forum hosts about 300 delegates from over 60 democratic nations for a conference on global security.

This year’s forum discussed the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine internationally and the need for Ukraine’s victory for democracies and the international order.

“There is a huge difference between ‘let’s help Ukraine not to fail,’ and ‘let’s help Ukraine to win.’ And we can practically measure these differences in types of weapons, in the gravity of sanctions, and the speed of decisions,” said Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties, which shared the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

Defence Minister Bill Blair recognized the support for Ukraine as essential and the possibility of failure as not affordable. “We’ve got to find ways to actually solve the munitions issue and work more collaboratively together. There’s an urgency to it.”

Since Russian invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Canada has committed over $2.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.

“We have tried to be a strong, reliable partner to Ukraine because their fight for freedom is the fight for all free democratic nations,” said Blair, addressing Canada’s efforts in helping Ukraine win the war against Russia.

Two men at podiums speak at a conference in Halifax.
caption Defence Minister Bill Blair listens while security forum president Peter Van Praagh delivers opening remarks during a press conference on Friday.
Victoria Brzezinski-Szadzianis

During Friday’s press conference, Blair also spoke about Canada’s position on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“I want to be very clear that Canada unequivocally condemns this terror attack. We call for the release of all hostages and we support Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with the laws of armed conflict and international law,” Blair said. “The situation in Gaza is dire and we are making investments to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza have life saving humanitarian aid that they need.”

The forum also addressed the issue of hostage-taking generally, not just those taken in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza was a forum participant in 2021 and is currently imprisoned in Russia. His wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, advocacy director of the Free Russian Foundation, spoke at this year’s forum, urging the international community take a preventative approach to hostage-taking practices.

A man makes a speech at Halifax's security forum
caption Forum’s president Peter Van Praagh delivering opening remarks. Halifax International Security Forum, Nov. 17, 2023 Halifax International Security Forum, Nov. 17, 2023
Victoria Brzezinski-Szadzianis

During the forum, Blair affirmed Halifax’s key position in the defence of Canada and announced multi-million-dollar defence investments in the region. He announced $188 million would be spent on a new training facility at CFB Halifax, Canada’s largest military base. The project is expected to be completed in 2029.

Canada is also contributing $26.6 million for NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA). DIANA seeks to unite the best innovators across the alliance and will provide funding for new technologies for both civilian and military use. It will open by summer 2024.

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About the author

Victoria Brzezinski-Szadzianis

Victoria is a Franco-Polish student. She moved to Halifax to study journalism at King's. She's in her fourth year of the BJH program.

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