OTTAWA – Stephen Harper says Canada will impose more sanctions on Russia as a result of Sunday’s vote in Crimea to secede from Ukraine.
Harper said Monday that the result of the so-called referendum is illegitimate and was conducted under an illegal Russian military occupation.
Harper said his government will be announcing more economic sanctions and travel restrictions on “senior people” in Russia and Ukraine, and “in Crimea specifically.”
He made the announcement prior to meeting Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada.
“It’s my strong belief we must keep the pressure on and we must continue to maintain sanctions and maintain putting in place strong steps to dissuade this behaviour,” Harper said. “What the Putin regime has done cannot be tolerated and can never be accepted.”
Harper is to fly to Kyiv on Friday to show his support for the temporary government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression in the strategic Black Sea region.
“I’m really looking forward to that as an opportunity this weekend to express the solidarity of the Canadian people with Ukrainian people and obviously our support for Ukraine’s prosperity, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”
Canada is acting in concert with its allies, Harper said.
Earlier Monday, the Obama administration announced a freeze on the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin.
European Union foreign ministers also imposed travel bans and froze the assets of 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine.
Harper condemned the “illegal, dangerous and unilateral actions of the Putin regime in Crimea on the weekend” when 97 per cent reportedly voted “yes” to joining Russia.
“They continue to seek a dangerous escalation in the situation,” he said.
The Obama administration has said there were “massive anomalies” in ballot.
Crimea’s parliament declared on Monday that it is an independent state.
Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced that Canada was suspending almost all its military relations with Russia because of the crisis in Ukraine.
Baird said nine Russian soldiers training in Canada would be expelled.