Canada has ‘really important role’ to play in countering Russian influence: expert

Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s bid to dismantle international rules offers unique opportunities for countries like Canada to lead the pushback, an expert says.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, critical threat expert Frederick Kagan said Putin’s use of unconventional methods such as information warfare and trying to leverage positions in international bodies to assert his views make Canada well-placed to call them out.

“I think Canada can play a really important role. This is not right now a conflict in which you can only play if you’ve got big conventional forces. There’s a place where that’s important but this is a conflict where soft power really does matter,” said Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.

“It matters to Putin how his information operations are perceived, it matters to him how the legality of his undertakings is perceived, and these are things that Canada can challenge as well or better than the United States or other countries.”

Kagan was among several military experts who spoke at the CDA Institute’s conference on security and defence in Ottawa last week.

During a panel about the threat posed by Russia, he made the case that Canada and allies are already in conflict with Russia because of Putin’s ongoing efforts to dismantle the rules-based international order established after the end of the Second World War.

“This is not an interwar period. The war is on,” he said on the panel.

“The principal challenge is our own failure to recognize we are involved in a great-scale conflict with Russia.”

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