Former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy will lead Canada's election observation mission to Ukraine as concerns mount that Russia may interfere in the country's democratic process, CBC News has learned.
"Mr. Axworthy will head the Canadian delegation of short- and long-term elections observers deployed to Ukraine," said a release obtained by CBC News.
"Together, they will observe all aspects of the presidential and legislative elections, including monitoring the participation of women, internally displaced persons and minorities in the electoral process."
Axworthy, who served under former prime minister Jean Chretien, led the Organization of American States election observation mission to Peru in 2006.
The release also states that Canada will provide funding to counteract the "negative impact of disinformation" in the electoral process as well as supporting electoral reform and efforts to get more women to participate in the the country's elections.
The first of Canada's election monitors began arriving in Ukraine last month in a bilateral effort organized between the two countries.
The crisis dates back to the Kremlin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and the war in eastern Ukraine.
Canada and its NATO allies consider Russia's actions, backed by President Vladimir Putin, to be a breach of Europe's borders, and have shored up the 28-country alliance's military forces in several eastern European countries.
Now with a pivotal Ukrainian presidential election campaign swinging into high gear, the Trudeau government is following in the footsteps of previous Conservative and Liberal governments in sending a Canadian-led observer mission, organized between Canada and Ukraine, while also contributing to a multinational mission led by the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.
The presidential elections are scheduled for March 31, 2019.