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Harper in Kyiv as first G7 leader to stand beside new regime in Ukraine
Harper calls for "complete reversal" of Russian annexation of Crimean peninsula
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Stephen Harper paid a visit to Ukraine on Saturday, becoming the first G7 leader to witness the devastation in Kyiv.

The prime minister took in the battle-scarred city square at the heart of the country's pro-democracy uprising last month.

Dozens of Ukrainians lost their lives in and around Independence Square, gunned down by their own military, as they ultimately drove out the country's former regime and sparked a stunning chain of events that saw Russia formally annex Crimea.

Harper called for a "complete reversal'' of Russia's subsequent annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

He laid a large bouquet of red carnations along a stone wall near the square, which now serves as a shrine to the victims. He was followed by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

"It is for Ukrainians, and for Ukrainians only, to decide their future,'' Harper told a news conference with the interim Ukrainian prime minister shortly before his visit to the square.

"In this principle, Canada will not waver. And to help the Ukrainian people peacefully secure a bright future of freedom, we shall spare no effort.''

He gave interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk the Ukrainian flag that flew on Parliament Hill during part of the country's uprising.

Harper, meantime, reiterated his tough stance against Russia.

"For Ukraine, the consequences of the actions of the Putin regime are obvious and can only be remedied by their complete reversal,'' he said.

"All of us who desire peace and stability in the world must recognize that the consequences of these actions will be felt far beyond the borders of Ukraine or even the European continent itself.''

He also provided a preview of what he's likely to argue to his fellow G7 leaders at an emergency summit in The Hague on Monday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.

"I think it is important that we in the free world not accept the occupation of Crimea, that we continue to resist and sanction the occupation of Crimea and that there be no return to business as usual with the Putin regime until such time as  the occupation of Crimea ends,'' he said.

Back at the square, startling scenes of enduring carnage surrounded the Canadians on an otherwise warm and sunny day.

As Ukrainians revelled in the sunshine and strolled through the square, they made their way past makeshift barriers made of tires, bricks and household items, designed to shield demonstrators from rooftop snipers just a few weeks ago.

Heaps of flowers were plentiful, marking the spots where Ukrainians died.

Photos of the dead were plastered everywhere in the soot-stained square.

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Stephen Harper paid a visit to Ukraine on Saturday, becoming the first G7 leader to witness the devastation in Kyiv.

The prime minister took in the battle-scarred city square at the heart of the country's pro-democracy uprising last month.

Dozens of Ukrainians lost their lives in and around Independence Square, gunned down by their own military, as they ultimately drove out the country's former regime and sparked a stunning chain of events that saw Russia formally annex Crimea.

Harper called for a "complete reversal'' of Russia's subsequent annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

He laid a large bouquet of red carnations along a stone wall near the square, which now serves as a shrine to the victims. He was followed by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

"It is for Ukrainians, and for Ukrainians only, to decide their future,'' Harper told a news conference with the interim Ukrainian prime minister shortly before his visit to the square.

"In this principle, Canada will not waver. And to help the Ukrainian people peacefully secure a bright future of freedom, we shall spare no effort.''

He gave interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk the Ukrainian flag that flew on Parliament Hill during part of the country's uprising.

Harper, meantime, reiterated his tough stance against Russia.

"For Ukraine, the consequences of the actions of the Putin regime are obvious and can only be remedied by their complete reversal,'' he said.

"All of us who desire peace and stability in the world must recognize that the consequences of these actions will be felt far beyond the borders of Ukraine or even the European continent itself.''

He also provided a preview of what he's likely to argue to his fellow G7 leaders at an emergency summit in The Hague on Monday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.

"I think it is important that we in the free world not accept the occupation of Crimea, that we continue to resist and sanction the occupation of Crimea and that there be no return to business as usual with the Putin regime until such time as  the occupation of Crimea ends,'' he said.

Back at the square, startling scenes of enduring carnage surrounded the Canadians on an otherwise warm and sunny day.

As Ukrainians revelled in the sunshine and strolled through the square, they made their way past makeshift barriers made of tires, bricks and household items, designed to shield demonstrators from rooftop snipers just a few weeks ago.

Heaps of flowers were plentiful, marking the spots where Ukrainians died.

Photos of the dead were plastered everywhere in the soot-stained square.

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