Canada 'united' with G7 on sending message to Russia: Harper
Published Tuesday, March 25, 2014 8:38AM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:23PM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada stands “united” with its G7 counterparts, NATO allies and the European Union in delivering a strong message to Russia about its actions in Ukraine.
Wrapping up his visit to The Hague for the Nuclear Security Summit, Harper said Tuesday that his government has been “outspoken” about the political turmoil in Ukraine partly because of “the kinship we have with a million of Ukrainian Canadians.”
After emergency talks on Monday, Harper and other G7 leaders decided to suspend their participation in the Group of Eight until Russia "changes course" in Ukraine.
In a move aimed at expressing support for the people of Ukraine, they also decided to skip the G8 summit scheduled for June in Sochi, Russia, opting to instead hold their own meeting in Brussels.
The leaders condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine, and what they called an “illegal referendum” on the issue. They also said they are ready to “intensify actions,” including co-ordinated sanctions, if Russia continues to “escalate this situation.”
Russia has already retaliated against Canada’s response by banning 13 Canadian lawmakers and officials from entering the country.
“I don’t know on what basis they’re sanctioning Canada other than: 'We just don’t approve of their actions,'” Harper said Tuesday.
He noted that Paul Grod, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, is on Russia’s blacklist.
“They sanctioned a man for the sole reason that he’s Ukrainian,” Harper said. “Now what does that tell you about the mentality of that government?”
On the nuclear summit front, Harper said Canada will support initiatives that address the threat of “nuclear terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.”
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said two conventions were ratified at the summit to improve nuclear security.
Russia worried about G20: expert
John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto, suggested earlier Tuesday that the Russian government is now also worried about its future in the G20.
Speculation that the Australian government may prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from attending the G20 summit in Brisbane later this year has the Russians “clearly worried,” Kirton told CTV’s Canada AM.
He said the G7 leaders’ decision to withdraw from the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi sends a “pretty clear” and “wise” signal to Russia. He said a seat at the G8 table is “still there for Putin,” but it’s now up to him to be invited back.
The G7 group consists of Canada, U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Russia joined in 1998 to form the G8 group, but G7 nations have been meeting separately over the years.