Baird rules out military response to Soviet-style intervention in Ukraine

‘The claims that President Putin puts forward are absurd and ridiculous,’ Baird says

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird lays flowers at a make-shift memorial for those killed in recent violence in Kiev February 28, 2014.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird lays flowers at a make-shift memorial for those killed in recent violence in Kiev February 28, 2014.

OTTAWA – 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 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 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.

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.

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 stressed the need “to be careful that we take measured responses that actually will support the Ukrainian people” and insisted “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 defaulting on its sovereign debt.

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.”

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Baird rules out military response to Soviet-style intervention in Ukraine

  1. LOL oh I’m sure Putin will breathe easier now.

    Especially since the Ukranian troops and their top warship sent to the Crimea …just defected to the Russians.

    • Oh, one day you’ll post an informed comment.

      That story hasn’t been confirmed.
      But, then again, you never let the facts get in the way of your posts.

      • Again, another non-comment from crazy Scott. Why are you here, moron? You’re not saying anything. Stay away!

        • my Aunty Sienna recently got a year old Jaguar only from
          working off a home computer… Recommended Reading B­i­g­4­1­.­ℂ­o­m

        • More trolling from, well, a troll.


          Go get your reading comprehension issues dealt with.

  2. Canada taking on Russia? Oh, what a laugh of the day.

    F18s are worn out, new defective F35s not delivered, 5 of these planes together are no match for a Sukhoi PAK FA T-50 superfighter….

    Our subs are lucky to make it back to port and our frigates need help but they float when they are not towing Somalia pirate ships to port.

    Our CF is so inefficient, mismanaged and politically a dysfunctional mess, I bet the Russian view if us is zero threat. I now understand why it took Canada 2+ years to become effective in WW II….. (had some vets in the family).

    Elected Putin has almost twice the midterm public support than does Harper and Obama. But we love propaganda and false vilification of others.

    Baird, Harper’s egotistical and arrogant ant minded rant never ceases to amaze me any more. And Manning wonders why real conservative people are disenchanted with the big C corrupt Conservative party of Canada….where foreign busybody, waste and bailouts mater more than the people who make this country work.

    • Congratulations!
      Your comment is the laugh of the week!

      Our CF-18’s are just fine.
      New F-35’s haven’t even been chosen by Canada.
      Did you see the news of the 100th delivery?
      Or all of the squadrons that have started training on them?

      Sukhoi T-50’s?
      There are only FOUR in existence that are flying.

      What do our subs have to do with the Ukraine?
      BTW, they also, are doing okay.
      Did you not read up on their deployments?

      What ‘help’ do our frigates need?

      The CF from an operational perspective is top notch.
      Forgot about the Afghanistan operations that honed them to a shape edge, I see.

      You’re comparing Putin and Harper’s political support in their respective countries?


      So, you’re all for supporting JT and his boneheaded offensive comments?


      Don’t breed.

      • You’re joking, right? You must be… nobody can be this stupid! Just one point. Why are you laughing at the comparison of Putin and Harpers support? Is democratic process a laughing matter to you? You’re an imbecile.

        • You’re trolling, no doubt about it.

          Go have your reading comprehension disability dealt with.

  3. The two posters above should move to China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea and see how they like it.

    • Agreed!

      Well, it’s to be expected from emilynone, and dave000.

  4. Damn those F35’s. Pennywise and a pound short.

    • What about them?

      First, we haven’t agreed to buy any.
      Second, they aren’t scheduled to reach IOC until 2015.

  5. International Law only applies when it’s not the US (And Canadian Lapdogs like Baird), UK or France invading some unsuspecting Country to steal all their resources and take over their banking system for their Corporate partners’ benefit. The hypocrisy is truly laughable. Perhaps he might weigh in on Israel illegally occupying Palestine? Oh that’s right. He is completely ok with the IDF routinely murdering unarmed innocent citizens on sight when they get too close to the fence. What an imbecile.

    • Wow.

      That’s quite the rant.

    • Murdering unarmed Palestinians at the fence? have you seen this for yourself? I’ve seen it the other way around where Israelis’ have been shot at and have been on the receiving end of some Gaza rockets.
      Of course if you haven’t witnessed it then you’re just a lap dog of the Palestinians.

      • Yeah sure you have. It’s common knowledge the Palestinians have thousands of hi powered guns in Gaza from all the military aid they receive. Nice try. When was the last time a Palestinian rocket hurt any Israeli’s? What color is the sky in your world?

        • You still haven’t answered the question, have you seen the IDF walking up to the fence at Gaza and fire on unarmed civilians? Yes or no? Or how about the west bank?
          The Bedouin have been smuggling weapons through the tunnels for years and with Libyan weapons easily acquired they’re coming from there too. Fortunately the Egyptian army has recently closed most of the tunnels into Gaza but weapons can easily be bought most places in the ME and for the Palestinians can be had in the Sinai.
          You don’t need anything special to shoot at the IDF, an AK-47 can be had for $50 USD or less in the ME and N. Africa.

          • Blah Blah Blah Blah. Same lies and deception from the Zionist, squatting land thieves. What other form of resistance do you suggest when someone comes and steals their land with no compensation? Zionism must be eradicated in order to achieve peace in the ME. Equality for all is needed to provide peace to all. Simple

          • Now you finally show yourself as one who calls for the eradication of the Jews. When we were stationed in the Golan and various other ME garden spots we’d look at the garden that Israel had become and said if the Palestinians (Jordanians actually) got a hold of the land they’d turn it into a shithole in five years. having served over there recently again only confirmed our earlier beliefs. The Israelis were given their land by the UN. If the locals had left them alone and worked with them instead of against them the whole of the ME would be living in a peaceful garden today.
            You only have yourselves to blame for your living conditions today.

          • Oh you poor thing. Is it possible to be this poorly educated to conflate an ideology with an ethnicity? I guess so, your inept response confirms such a reality. Who gave the UN the right to give someone else’s land to Jews who have never set foot in the Middle East? Only a complete imbecile would respond this way. It wasn’t theirs to give. Do you understand this concept? Kind of like me giving your home to someone else. Not very plausible is it ? Do you realize Jews and Arabs lived in harmony for hundreds of years before this racist, oppressive scheme was hatched by these criminals? Why didn’t they give the Jews a district in London? Most of them descended from Europe. Or are you too dim to know this?

          • Correct Scotty, I can attest to the fact that Gaza rockets and mortars have a very lethal effect, and they are pretty disturbing when one lands nearby.

          • Yup. It can leave a skid make in the shorts, if it’s close….

          • Ohhhhhhhh. Very scary. Show me the part where it says anyone was hurt Einstein. Stop being an apologist for Squatting land thieves. Perhaps we can give your home to someone else and drive you out of your neighborhood with no compensation. Maybe some Syrian refugees? They have about as much right to your land as an American Jew has to the indigenous people of Palestine’s land. What do you think ? I’m choking…. Buahahaha. The loud noises must be very disturbing. LOL

          • You have been SCHOOLED.

          • Did you see who’s behind them?


            Utterly SCHOOLED, you.

  6. Breaking news: Baird is not going to invade Ukraine!

    • Well, thanks for confirming the low level of your maturity.