MONTREAL: The Canadian government is making a significant diplomatic push to secure the establishment of a UN peacekeeping force in Ukraine, the foreign minister announced on Thursday.
"Around the world Canada has been leading conversations with a number of countries about the viability and utility of peacekeeping and policing in Ukraine," Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pressed the issue with his German counterpart, Chancellor Angela Merkel, she added.
Freeland also said she "personally explored the feasibility and prospects of such a mission" with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with US Special Envoy Kurt Volker, and with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week.
"Our government has been at the heart of international efforts to support Ukraine and we are working hard to ensure any peacekeeping effort guarantees Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Freeland said.
Proposals have been floated at the United Nations in recent months for a peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine but failed to get unanimous agreement, with Russia -- which has a veto on the Security Council -- preferring a small UN force to protect international observers monitoring the conflict zone.
About 1.2 million Canadians, including Freeland, have Ukrainian ancestry, and consecutive Canadian governments have sided with Kiev in its conflict with Moscow since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Like other Western nations, Canada has imposed sanctions on Russian officials -- the latest round last week provoking reciprocal sanctions from Russia.
Earlier this year, Ottawa also announced the extension of a military mission to train Ukrainian soldiers until 2019, and the two countries formalized a defense cooperation pact.
In September, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said during a visit to Canada to expect more stability in eastern Ukraine with the Canadian presidency of the G7 in 2018.
Canada is also leading a NATO multinational battle group in Latvia, on Russia's doorstep, described in March by Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan as "a strong message of deterrence" to Russia.