Canada, Russia Trade Barbs Over Ukraine Crisis
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper departed for Europe on Monday, in a week-long trip that includes a celebration of the end of the Cold War and ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.
Harper will also travel to Brussels to attend a G7 summit, which was cobbled together as a replacement for a G8 meeting scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia. That meeting was scrubbed in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine.
Harper ends the trip in Normandy, where he'll attend D-Day ceremonies, an event which is expected to include Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some awkwardness is expected between Harper and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Shalom Toronto, after Harper has lashed out at Putin over the Ukraine crisis with a torrent of critical comments.
Neither has expressed the desire to conduct dialogue during the event, although analysts say they will probably comment on each other to their own delegations.
Just last Friday, Harper denounced Putin in a fiery speech in Toronto, linking him with the worst evils of 20th century communism, which he called a ruthless and "poisonous ideology" that "slowly bled into countries around the world."
He then stated that Canada was a haven for those fleeing from communism and anti-Semitism, and provided refugees with liberty, opportunity, and hope.
Referring to the current situation, Harper warned that developments in Ukraine are "dangerous" and can have profound implications worldwide.
According to Harper, Putin's militaristic approach is not confined only to Ukraine, but threatens the security of Canada's allies in Eastern Europe, as well as global stability in general.
"I cannot predict what will happen in the coming months in Europe and Canada," Harper said, reiterating that Canada will continue to provide support, freedom and democracy for all sides, and that Canada has ceased to associate with pro-Russian militants in Ukraine.
The Russian government responded to the speech last week, telling the Globe and Mail that Canada’s policy on Ukraine is irrational.
“We are just hearing the Cold War rhetoric from your government which does not contribute to the settlement of the crisis. Instead it’s just increasing the tension,” Andrey Grebenshchikov, a Russian embassy employee, told the daily.
“You’ve got a very black and white picture of what is happening on the ground. Canada, as other western partners, tends to legitimize only one side in this crisis.”