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Canada rules out military response to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Canada won't boycott upcoming Paralympics in Sochi

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is ruling out western military intervention to force Russia to pull its troops out of Ukraine.

But he's not ruling out further sanctions, including expelling Russia's ambassador to Canada.

"I don't think there's anyone talking about western military intervention, none of our friends or allies," Baird told Global's West Block.

"What we are doing is working together to say in no uncertain terms that this is completely unacceptable and to condemn (it) in the strongest language possible."

Baird's own language was harsh. He called the invasion of Russian troops "old Soviet-style" aggression and dismissed Russian arguments that it needs to protect its Black Sea naval fleet, which is based in Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, and the Russian-speaking population in that region.

"There is absolutely no justification whatsoever," Baird said.

"The claims that President (Vladimir) Putin puts forward are absurd and ridiculous. He has no right to invade another country, a neighbouring country that's struggling for freedom and democracy.

"The excuses and the rhetoric that's coming out of Moscow are unacceptable. No one is buying them in the western world and they make President Putin look ridiculous."

On Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada is withdrawing its ambassador from Russia and will boycott preparatory meetings of ministers and officials for the G8 summit, which is supposed to be held in June in Sochi, where the Winter Olympic games just ended.

"Next month there's a G8 foreign ministers' meeting and if (Putin) continues with this provocative action, there's certainly no way I or Canada would want to have anything to do with Russian world leadership,'' Baird said.

Whether the G8 leaders' summit itself goes ahead, will be up to Putin, he added, stressing that Russia must be made to realize that its actions "will have a major effect on Russia's relationship, not just with Canada but the entire free and democratic world."

Baird was returning Saturday from Kyiv, where he led a Canadian government delegation to show support for Ukraine's new pro-western government.

In his absence, he said his deputy minister called in Russia's ambassador to Canada, Georgiy Mamedov, and reamed him out "in the strongest terms certainly in my time at Foreign Affairs."

He did not rule out expelling the ambassador.

"We'll obviously be revisiting this on an hour by hour basis," he said, adding that Canada wants to act "in unison" with its allies.

On Saturday, Harper spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama and the two agreed to "co-ordinate closely" their response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Harper has also spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

As well, Harper spoke Saturday with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

Harper said Canada supports the United Nations sending international monitors to Ukraine and is involved in multilateral talks to put together a financial aid package for Ukraine, which is on the brink of defaulting on its sovereign debt.

Despite the sanctions, Canada does not intend to withdraw its athletes from the Paralympics, set for March 7-16 in Sochi.

"We don't want the athletes to pay the price for this," Baird said.

However, he said no government representative will attend the games "to somehow glorify Russia's time in the spotlight."

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  1. 123123 posted on 03/02/2014 03:59 PM
    Expel the ambassador already. What Russia is doing is illegal. No reason for us to wait for the Americans or the brits here.
  2. HP posted on 03/02/2014 07:58 PM
    No different than America`s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan...Israel`s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza...even Canada has blood on our hands. Remember Somalia?, Bosnia? Afghanistan?
  3. Angry Bill posted on 03/03/2014 10:47 AM
    Some of you folks may be old enough to remember the soviet era during the 80s. It's looking to me like a lot of our politicians are forgetting. I do not believe that the Russian government has appreciably changed since the cold war era. Remember that Putin was in the KGB. He is not a nice man. He has his own agenda.

    If you remember the 80s, you will also remember that Russia does not give one rat's arse what the western world does. All the posturing by western politicians? Doesn't even register on Russian radar. In the 80s, Russia happily shot down any aircraft that wandered into their airspace accidentally. Remember the Korean passenger jet airliner? Yep.. According to Russia, that was a spy plane. Big backlash from the west, but Russia wasn't impacted at all. They just didn't care.

    And they still don't.

    Anyone who thinks that the new Russia is all touchy-feely is living in wonderland. I heard in the news that Obama doesn't think Russia will go past the Crimea. This is what happens when reading history books is no longer part of the curriculum. I know exactly what Russia is going to do, and I know what the west is going to do. At the most, the west will impose largely meaningless sanctions on Russia. That's it.

    Also, the thought of Canada mounting any kind of military response against Russia is pretty laughable. No disrespect to our people in uniform. I was one for 17 years. But our government is in the habit of letting its mouth write cheques that its body can't cash. Like when Chretien, after castrating our Armed Forces even further, said sure, we'll go to Afghanistan. And sent us there ill-equipped. That was the criminal action, in my opinion.

    And just so you don't think I like all things conservative, I think the hypocrisy of the current federal government regarding our veterans is pretty obvious. They pay lip service to taking care of our veterans, but do very little for them in actuality. There are a lot more suicides than catch the news of our returning veterans who don't get the support they need from the government that promised it to them.

    If anything would make me not vote conservative in the next federal election, that would be it.
  4. john posted on 03/03/2014 01:24 PM
    i would have stayed out of it all together UN getting involved will only make it worse .

    iraq Afghanistan ETC .
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