The world warns Putin to back off

Another day of escalation in Ukraine


Michael Petrou reports from Kyiv on Satuday another day of clashes in Ukraine:

Here’s the latest report out of Ottawa on Sunday by Joan Bryden of the Canadian Press:

OTTAWA – The Harper government ramped up its denunciations of Russia on Sunday, threatening the potential for more sanctions even as it ruled out western military intervention to force Russian troops out of Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird used some of the toughest language yet, describing Russia’s incursion as “old Soviet-style” aggression and saying President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to justify it are “absurd and ridiculous.”

But, while he spoke of the possibility of further sanctions, including expelling Russia’s ambassador to Canada, he ruled out a military response to the crisis by western nations.

“I don’t think there’s anyone talking about western military intervention, none of our friends or allies,” Baird said Sunday in an interview with 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 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 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.

At a later news conference in Toronto, Baird did not rule out further sanctions, including freezing Russian assets, trade and investment penalties and a ban on visas.

“It’s certainly something we’ll consider in the next few days.”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who was briefed by Harper on the situation Saturday, threw his whole-hearted support behind the government’s response to the crisis.

“I think that Canada’s been getting it right in terms of our very strong reaction to what the Russians have done,” he told a news conference in Toronto.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable to be violating Ukraine’s sovereignty in this way and the prime minister and I have spoken and he has my full support with the steps that have been taken so far.”

However, two of Canada’s most distinguished former diplomats dismissed the Harper government’s response thus far as “bluster” and meaningless “gestures.”

Jeremy Kinsman, former ambassadors to Russia, Britain, Italy and the European Union, and Paul Heinbecker, former ambassador to the United Nations, were particularly critical of the government’s decision to withdraw Canada’s ambassador to Russia and to threaten Mamedov’s expulsion. They said a crisis like this is precisely when high-level diplomatic contact should be maintained, not cut off.

In an interview, Mulcair said it would be a mistake to expel Mamedov at this point.

“To the extent that we have to keep some channel of communication open, I think that it would be a mistake to consider expelling him at this stage with what’s now happening,” he told The Canadian Press.

Baird significantly turned down the volume on his own rhetoric at the later news conference, adopting a more diplomatic tone. For instance, rather than repeat his assertion that Putin’s explanations for the invasion are absurd and ridiculous, he said: “We just disagree in the strongest of terms with the justifications, with the so-called justifications that are being put forward.”

He said Canada is not currently considering expelling the Russian ambassador, stressing the need “to be careful that we take measured responses that actually will support the Ukrainian people.” And he added: “Our first goal is to de-escalate the situation.”

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.

On Sunday, Harper spoke to Paul Grod, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, who is in Ukraine.

A senior government official said Harper reiterated the need for Russian troops to withdraw and emphasized that Canada recognizes the legitimacy of the transitional Ukrainian government, installed after massive pro-democracy protests forced pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych to flee. Grod thanked the prime minister for Canada’s leadership, the official said.

Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, however, called the new government illegitimate and warned that continued “lawlessness” in Ukraine will end in revolution and bloodshed.

In his statement Saturday, Harper said Canada also 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 bankruptcy.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that Canada has indicated “support in principle” for an International Monetary Fund aid package. He said “basic economic stability for Ukraine at this sensitive moment is critically important.”

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 told Global.

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

Related links:

Petrou is on the ground in Ukraine. You can follow his reporting here:

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The world warns Putin to back off

  1. Only a couple of days ago Harper was loud-mouthed in his proclaiming undying support for Ukraine.
    How weak he looks now.

    • My guess is NSA has information on Harper and/or the Conservative party. Keeps Harper in line with USA back door policy.

      • No no no…..that’s Duffy. LOL

        • My Uncle James recently got a new black Mazda MAZDASPEED3
          Hatchback by working at home online. you can try here J­u­m­p­9­9­9­.­ℂ­o­m

    • Where, exactly, has Harper stopped supporting the Ukraine?

      Where’s the shiny pony and his intelligent thoughts on the matter?

      Oh, wait….

  2. When are Canadian pols going to show up to fix Canada’s anti-democratic pursuits: rigged elections, G-20 police state activities, panopticon surveillance of civilians at the behest of the USA, unaccountable & corrupt Senators and PM staff, and the least amount of transparency in decades.

    Frankly, it is contemptible that elected Canadian representatives are attempting to show who is the bigger Ukrainian supporter. Unless these clowns want WW3 they need to STFU and do what they’re supposed to do, which is represent Canada in parliament.

  3. “The world warns Putin to back off”.

    Or else what?

    If you’re a tin pot dictator in Russia, North Korea, Iran, Syria, China, etc…are you afraid at this point of any “consequences” threatened by the Obama admin?

    • And what exactly would Romney have done differently in the nuclear age? Einstein had guys like you pegged precisely…everything has changed except our mode of thinking. The ultimate consequences are simply too awful to contemplate. Beyond a certain point everyone’s hands are tied… if they’re sane.

    • You are good puppet plant. A good follower easily brainwashed. Just like brown-shirts were.

      Russia Putin is a democratically elected leader, and has almost twice the public support as Obama or the side kick Harper. Putin has about 60, a majority of popular support if his constituents.

      Neither Harper nor Obama can claim at this moment the MAJORITY of people are in support.

      Putin doesn’t do bailouts, corporate welfare….and isn’t dirty so NSA can’t control him.

      But the article does show how media is manipulated, especially when you read CBC’s take on this. Just Canadians BSing Canadians,

      • Obama has so far just proven himself to be but a useful idiot, like Clinton and Carter.

        If you believe the Putin propaganda and phony election results I have a real nice bridge you should buy.

        Reagan had the Soviets crushed economically, then that asshat Clinton encourages investment there, unintended consequences eh?

        Putin is a criminal thug, poster boy of the Russian mafia.

        Former PM Chretien went to Russia as defense lawyer for the jailed former head of Yukos Oil and Putin’s main opponent, whom Putin jailed, then Chretien being the unprincipled scum that he is switched sides and helped Putin steal this company from it’s rightful owners.

        You’re sounding more and more like Carter, Clinton and Obama.

        • Assets belonging to the Yukos parent company are frozen, but Russia’s
          president knows that the group has to meet its operational costs and
          has been careful not to interfere with accounts belonging to its
          subsidiaries. Besides, if necessary, Putin would have little trouble
          invoking – or inventing – emergency powers to keep the company’s plants

          He has, after all, been adroit at bending the country’s
          judicial system to his will so far. Yukos’s crisis began last autumn
          with the dramatic imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, its principal
          shareholder, on charges of fraud and tax evasion. It has since escalated
          into a full-blooded assault on the company itself, with a series of
          huge tax demands and the mooted state confiscation both of
          Khodorkovsky’s 40 per cent stake and Yuganskneftegas, the vital Yukos
          production subsidiary.

          Does Putin intend simply to liquidate
          Khodorkovsky’s power – the Yukos boss was once a potential political
          rival – or, more broadly, to reverse the murky privatisations of the
          Nineties, when Russia’s ‘oligarchs’ snapped up enormously valuable
          energy and mineral assets for a song?

      • Comparing Putin, Obama and Harper’s support in their respective countries?


        Can you be any more out of your league?

    • After iraq, condequnces from the West are randomized. You may be invaded for doing nothing, you may not be invaded for doing deplorable acts.

      After Iraq, there is no incentive to do as you will.

  4. Canada warns Putin? Ha ha. Give me another one.

    • Obama draws a red line…

  5. Funny the hypocrisy of our governments.

    If we invade them (Iraq/Afghanistan) or bomb them (Libya) or covertly create violence (Libya, Syria, others) its OK and just.

    Russia rolls into Ukraine to get peace and they are evil?

    Happens ever time someone talks of cutting the USA military complex budget. Send out propaganda for war.

    This is no propaganda: USA spends more on CIA/military than the other top 25 nations in the world combined, as if at war with the world. NSA+CIA+military is a trillion dollar a year deal for USA, all on a the credit card.

    As for KT-Moon, perhaps he should deliver on the promise made a few years ago on justice for the UN involvement in Bosnia sex trade during its occupation.

    And UN-US should go back and clean up the Somalian mess.

    But anyone can see the hypocrisy in this: Russia invades Afghanistan is bad. but USA invades Afghanistan is good. How so?

    Obama is really a narcissistic hypocrite, look at bombing Libya for oil and banking, covert Syria….

    Fact is USA is itching for war to hide western and US banking corruption. History shows failing empires often like a war….. hey, why address your own corruption problems when you can go out and kill someone?

    • Your mindless US-bashing flies in the face of the facts.

      Who are the Ukrainians and the world looking to for help in this crisis?

      You guessed it, the United States of America.

      Seek help for your delusions.
      Take a history class, while you’re at it.

  6. Once again without having any idea about the actual situation in Ukraine, Harpo rattles his empty scabbard.

    He has confused a hockey game with reality.

    Russia isn’t about to give up Sevastopol.

    • Once again without having any idea about the actual situation in Ukraine, emilynone posts uninformed babble.

      Sevastopol is Ukrainian territory.

  7. Here is a link to a picture of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. There is one small dry dock and a handful of thirty plus year old vessels that aren’t worth much more than scrap value. This is what the lying waste of skin Putin claims is so strategically y important.

    • On a side note, if you look at the Sevastopol Black Sea Fleet docks you will see ten or twelve of Putin’s cronies yachts tied up there.

      • On Google Earth, doh!

    • Exactly.
      The Russian and Ukrainian fleets aren’t too impressive.

      Their militaries in general are in pretty bad states, contrary to what some people think.

  8. This is going to hurt Russian gas exports to Europe once the two other gasification plants are completed;

    Regasification plant opened at Gate terminal in Rotterdam

    A consortium formed by Techint E&C and Sener has successfully completed construction of a 12 billion m3/yr
    LNG regasification plant at the Gate terminal in Rotterdam. The plant
    was officially opened in a ceremony involving over 700 people including
    Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

    The plant has cost € 800 million to construct and has tank storage capacity of up to 180, 000 m3
    of gas, allowing it to cover the needs of 7 million households in the
    Netherlands and to export natural gas to the rest of Europe.

    The plant has already successfully received a cargo from one of the world’s largest LNG carriers, the Al Samriya, a Qatari Q-Max vessel with a capacity of 263,000 m3.

    “We are delighted that the construction of Gate terminal begun in
    2007 has been completed on schedule despite the complexity of the
    project,” said Techint E&C CEO Paolo Bigi. “Today we offer
    consolidated experience in LNG plant construction, and in fact we are
    currently building two other plants, one in France and one in Poland.”

    Techint E&C is also building a further two LNG regasification plants in Europe, a 13 billion m3/yr capacity installation in Dunkirk, France and a facility with a capacity of 5 billion m3/yr in Poland at Swinoujsce.

    Published on 23/09/2011

  9. The there’s the shale gas fields that have yet to be developed in Poland and Ukraine, Europe won’t need natural gas from Russia.

    • The estimated rise in production of natural gas — by 11 (“pessimist
      scenario”) to 17 (“optimist scenario”) billion cubic meters by 2030, to
      which shale gas is expected to contribute will put a pressure on the
      price of Russian gas by reducing imports and creating competition.
      Today Gazprom seems to be weaker than ever in the last decade, with the
      world gas market prices driven down by the shale gas boom in the US.
      Given the fact that in case of a large-scale production of shale gas in
      Ukraine its price will be at least half the current Russian gas price,
      shale gas was lauded as a significant opportunity to guarantee Ukrainian
      energy independence.

  10. What I’ve read about the IMF “rescue” package seems to put the screws to the Ukraine. Putin could probably just buy his way in .

    • How could you have read about the IMF package for Ukraine when it hasn’t been negotiated yet?

      The USA and other Western nations are to contribute the aid package.

  11. G8 meeting in Sochi suspended
    note that Russia’s actions in Ukraine also contravene the principles
    and values on which the G-7 and the G-8 operate. As such, we have
    decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities
    associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in
    June, until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have
    meaningful discussion”. Finance ministers from the Group of Seven rich
    nations on Sunday pledged to throw a financial lifeline to Ukraine as
    long as the new government in Kiev agreed to pursue economic reforms
    sought by the International Monetary Fund. “We are united in our
    commitment to provide strong financial backing to Ukraine,” the G7
    ministers said in a joint statement. “The transition to a new government
    in Ukraine offers a unique opportunity to put in place urgently needed
    market-oriented reforms”.

  12. “Putin in another world” – Merkel to ObamaThe New York Times
    reports a phone call between president Obama and Angela Merkel on the
    Ukrainian situation: “Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama
    by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not
    sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In
    another world,” she said.

    • Russian stocks were hit hardest, with the MICEX losing 12.7 per cent.
      Russia’s currency, the ruble hit all-time lows against it’s major
      traders. It fell below 50 to the euro for the first time ever and is below 36.4 against the U.S. dollar, also a record.

      Russia increased its key interest rate by 1.5 percentage points overnight in an effort to support the ruble.

      “The only problem is that it didn’t really work,” Scotiabank economists Derek Holt and Dov Ziegler said in a note Monday morning.