MPs 'strongly condemn' Russia's actions in Ukraine
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, March 3, 2014 2:25PM EST
Last Updated Monday, March 3, 2014 5:36PM EST
Members of Parliament “strongly” condemned Russia’s intervention in the Crimea, voting unanimously in support of a motion Monday calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from the region and affirm Ukrainians’ right to “pursue a free and democratic future.”
MPs voted on the motion, which was introduced by Conservative MP Ted Opitz, after question period Monday afternoon.
The full text of the motion read:
That this House strongly condemn Russia's provocative military intervention in Ukraine; call upon Russia to withdraw its forces and respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, as per the commitments in the 1994 Budapest Declaration and under international law; reaffirm the legitimacy of the Government of Ukraine and Ukraine's territorial integrity; support the Government's decision to recall Canada's ambassador in Moscow for consultations and to suspend the Government's engagement in preparation for the G-8 Summit; encourage the Government to work with like-minded partners, including through multilateral forums, to de-escalate the current situation; affirm the Ukrainian people's right of self-determination, free from intervention; and stand with the Ukrainian people as they pursue a free and democratic future.
The motion came after Prime Minister Stephen Harper telephoned Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, to offer Canada’s support as the crisis in that country escalates.
“Prime Minister Harper condemned in the strongest terms President (Vladimir) Putin's military intervention in Ukraine," Jason MacDonald, Harper's director of communications, said in a statement.
"He expressed to Prime Minister Yatsenyuk that Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected and that the Ukrainian people must be free to determine their own future."
Canada has also recalled its ambassador to Russia and has, in concert with some of its allies, suspended preparations for the upcoming G8 summit, which is to be held in Russia in June.
At an event in Toronto, Harper said Canada is reviewing “all planned bilateral interactions” with Russia.
"President Putin's actions have put his country on a course of diplomatic and economic isolation that could see Russia exit the G8 entirely," Harper said."We will also continue to work closely with our G-7 partners and our allies."
Russia’s decision to move troops into the Crimean peninsula over the weekend and its threat to seize two Ukrainian warships led to high-level meetings Monday among diplomats in Europe and the West. Delegates to the United Nations met Monday afternoon, while the United States issued a warning to Putin to pull out of eastern Ukraine.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, just back from a trip to Ukraine, told CP24 he witnessed burned-out buildings, barricades and memorials to the nearly 100 lives lost in the violence in Ukraine as he walked through Kyiv’s Independence Square.
Baird later told CTV's Power Play that Canada is “tremendously angry at this turn of events,” referring to Russia’s move into the Crimea.
“It’s a pretty big military action when a neighbouring country invades a sovereign state, where they have committed to respecting territorial integrity,” Baird said. “So obviously we’re deeply concerned by what we’re seeing in the Crimea, deeply concerned about what this says about Russia’s intent in other parts of the region.”
Baird said his deputy minister called in Russia’s ambassador for talks over the weekend, “and in no uncertain terms told him of our government’s revulsion at what’s taken place in Crimea. We obviously respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Baird said that the Harper government has yet to decide whether Canada will expel the Russian ambassador, and would not say whether Russia is on the verge of being expelled from the G-8.
“We’ll work with like-minded friends and allies on the appropriate response. Obviously we all want to see a diplomatic solution, a political solution,” Baird said.
“But when such Soviet-style tactics are used in this century, which we thought ended in the previous one, it’s obviously tremendously alarming.”
To a follow-up question about whether Russia will be expelled from the G-8, Baird said, “we’ll take it one step at a time."
“We obviously want to see Russia change course,” he said. “But we’re obviously deeply concerned that they won’t.”
Baird did tell CP24 that Canada will not be sending a high-level delegation to the upcoming Paralympics in Sochi.
“They spent $50 billion to try to showcase Russia on the world stage, and they’ve lost all of that goodwill in recent days,” Baird said of the recent Sochi Olympics.
Meanwhile, MPs from all parties expressed their support for the Ukrainian people.
“Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be fully respected. The Russian Federation’s current military intervention is in violation of Russia’s obligations under international law and its bilateral agreements with Ukraine,” NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said in a statement, adding that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected.
“The situation requires active and ongoing diplomatic engagement without excluding the possibility of additional political or economic responses against those responsible for violations of international law. Canada must continue to pursue opportunities for diplomatic resolution to this crisis in cooperation with our international partners through multilateral fora including the United Nations, the G7 and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.”
"We all stand in solidarity with Ukraine's thirst for freedom, democracy, human rights and the civilized rule of law both domestically and internationally," said Liberal MP Ralph Goodale.