Trudeau and Putin sit side-by-side, talk Russian wartime sacrifice
Published Sunday, November 11, 2018 2:58PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 11, 2018 3:33PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, at the World Peace Forum in Paris organized to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War.
The Prime Minister’s Office says that Trudeau spoke to Putin and “acknowledged the Russian people’s extraordinary sacrifices through the two World Wars, therefore it’s important to have Russian representation here to talk about peace.”
It may have been an awkward encounter for Trudeau, who has repeatedly condemned Putin’s actions, including the annexation of Crimea, Russia’s funding of rebel forces in Ukraine, Putin’s support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the alleged Russian poisonings in the United Kingdom.
Trudeau has also previously raised the possibility that dissident Pyotr Verzilov, a Canadian citizen, was poisoned in Moscow.
Trudeau’s adversarial stance stands in contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump’s. In Paris, Putin gave Trump a thumbs-up sign and patted his arm when he arrived.
Like Putin, Trump considers himself a nationalist.
At the peace forum, Trudeau, along with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, spoke out against nationalism.
"When people feel their institutions can't protect them, they look for easy answers in populism, in nationalism, in closing borders, in shutting down trade, in xenophobia," Trudeau said in his speech.
French President Emmanuel Macron, echoed the sentiment, calling nationalism “the exact opposite” of patriotism.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who sat on the other side of Putin at the event, implored the world leaders to co-operate.
“It’s easy to destroy institutions but it’s incredibly difficult to build them,” she said.
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press