Harper tells Putin to “get out of Ukraine”: spokesman

The Prime Minister had a showdown with the President of Russia at the G20 summit in Australia


BRISBANE, Australia – Stephen Harper had a showdown with Vladimir Putin on Saturday, telling the Russian leader to “get out of Ukraine” in a dustup at the Group of 20 summit in Australia.

Harper’s spokesman, Jason MacDonald, said the prime minister was speaking to a group of G20 leaders at a private leaders’ retreat on Saturday morning when Putin approached and extended his hand.

MacDonald said Harper told Putin: “I guess I’ll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine.”

According to MacDonald, Putin did not respond positively. He didn’t provide further details.

But a spokesman for the Russian delegation said Putin’s response was: “That’s impossible because we are not there.”

Harper and the leaders of the world’s top economies began the annual summit in a tense atmosphere dominated by Western anger towards Putin and pressure to address climate change, fight Ebola and kickstart economic growth.

A senior government source had earlier stated that Harper had no intention of talking to Putin during the summit, noting the Russian leader was well aware of Canada’s position on his aggression in Ukraine. That changed when Putin approached his Canadian counterpart.

The brilliant blue skies overhead this seaside city buzzed with security helicopters as the leaders, including Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama, arrived at the Queensland Parliament House in downtown Brisbane for the retreat.

Harper chatted with British Prime Minister David Cameron as they entered the stately stone building on a steamy morning. The city is currently enduring a record-breaking heatwave, with the mercury expected to climb as high as 40 C on Sunday.

The summit was meant to focus on economic issues. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott officially opened the summit with a pledge that world leaders would deliver on an initiative to add $2 trillion to the global GDP, vowing freer trade and more investment for infrastructure.

He said the leaders’ plans for growth would add millions of jobs and boost the world’s GDP by more than two per cent.

But it was clear that Putin’s actions over the past few days were top of mind for the leaders.

Abbott lashed out at the Russian leader for apparently flexing his military muscles by sending four Russian navy ships to stalk Australia’s northern coast in the days leading up to the G20 summit.

“Russia would be so much more attractive if it was aspiring to be a superpower for peace and freedom and prosperity, if it was trying to be a superpower for ideas and for values, instead of trying to recreate the lost glories of tsarism or the old Soviet Union,” he said.

Cameron threatened Russia with further sanctions if it doesn’t resolve the Ukrainian conflict amid reports that Russian troops and tanks are flooding into the eastern reaches of Ukraine.

Harper has been a vehement Putin critic for months, with Canada and Russia trading a number of retaliatory sanctions.

He recently condemned the “continued penetration of Russian presence in eastern Ukraine and obvious actions … to extend and provoke additional violence. That’s of great concern to us.”

Russia, meantime, took aim at France on the eve of the summit, threatening “serious” consequences if it fails to deliver a warship whose handover has been delayed by the events in Ukraine.

Putin also assailed his fellow G20 nations for imposing sanctions at all, saying in an interview with Russia’s state media that the measures violated G20 principles.

Amid those hostilities, the stage was set for face-to-face meetings that promise to be crackling.

Harper arrived in sweltering Australia from chilly New Zealand late Friday night and told the media he agreed with Abbott, the summit’s chairman, that the event should focus on economic issues.

But he added he expected the recent climate change deal between the U.S. and China, setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions, would also be a topic of discussion among the leaders of the world’s top economies, as well as a host of other issues.

On the sidelines of the summit, Obama pledged a US$3 billion contribution to the so-called Green Climate Fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change and develop cleaner sources of energy.

The move reportedly is part of Obama’s intention to use his last two years in office pushing forward climate change policy.

Environmentalists have demanded climate be on the agenda at the G20 meeting, and the head of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, called on the G20 to make the environment a priority in a news conference at the summit.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our times; it’s only natural that G20 leaders should focus much more on this,” he said.

Hundreds of protesters were in Brisbane staging largely peaceful demonstrations and marches, mostly to demand action on climate change from the leaders of the world’s top 20 economies.

But there were protesters calling for action on a variety of issues under heavy police watch, including 100 Tibetan ex-political prisoners and supporters who urged world leaders to support an end to China’s occupation of the region.

Violent protests have marred previous G20s, including in Toronto four years ago.

The G20 is also facing calls to come up with a financial response to the Ebola epidemic in western Africa. Health-care workers battling the outbreak have been pleading for more resources.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim says a proposed global emergency fund to contain the next Ebola outbreak has the interest of many finance ministers and central bank governors. He’s in Brisbane for the summit.

MacDonald, Harper’s spokesman, said the fund was an “interesting idea in principle.”

“But we would need to see additional details on the mechanism, how it would work, and what the accountability measures would be,” he added.

Later Saturday, the leaders took in a welcoming ceremony that featured Australian aboriginal performers. Harper sat next to Obama for part of the festivities.

Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter @leeanne25



Harper tells Putin to “get out of Ukraine”: spokesman

  1. Closet-Commander Harper has a big mouth when he’s surrounded by security and a crowd eh?

    Of course every leader there tells the same kind of ‘tough’ stories to their home-town crowd.

  2. Putin is almost on par with Obama in the all time loser category.

    Obama’s pledge of US$3 billion to the so-called Green Climate Fund is as hollow as he is………..good luck getting that passed through the House and Senate Barack Hussein Obama.

  3. This raises the question: Is Putin psychotic?

    In a word, yes. Perhaps surprisingly, this is not merely due to some fatal flaw or narcissistic character disorder, but rather a syndrome that results from having too much unchecked power for too long. We call it power psychosis because it entails actually losing touch with reality. Many of the despots of our world running malevolent states, businesses, cults, religious sects, terrorist cells, and criminal organizations share this particular brand of delusion. In fact, decades of research have shown that many of us in high power — the wealthy, the famous, the strong, the politically advantaged, and those in positions of high authority — tend to become increasingly susceptible to forms of power psychosis.

    It works like this. The longer people remain in high power, the more they process information abstractly, perceive other people in instrumental and stereotypical terms, become more self-confident and less inhibited, make riskier choices, and have reduced capacities for complex social reasoning and moral judgment. They also become less likely to adopt someone else’s perspective, are less-accurate judges of other’s emotions, and recall less correct information about subordinates. They even begin to see other people as physically smaller.

    In time the powerful can develop a sense of super optimism, a form of hubris where they feel they can do or say whatever they want, often moving to evermore egregious violations, believing they can’t be caught or punished. Of course, this occurs within cultures, institutions and norms that allow it to run unchecked.

    When the powerful find themselves in disputes with others, their delusions really kick in. People in high power tend to become very comfortable adopting a domineering conflict style and often lose the capacity to respond in other ways. They monopolize speaking time and speak out of turn, are much more likely to express their private opinions and true attitudes, and are much less affected by the expressed attitudes or persuasion attempts of others. They also pay less attention to lower-power disputants, overestimate their own power and underestimate the power of others, fail to sufficiently understand the disputes they face, and are more inclined toward breaking rules and laws.

    In a study of high-level international negotiations, scholars found that the more powerful countries’ negotiators typically neglected to think about power differences at all. If they did, they usually operated on the assumption that their superior aggregate power was sufficient to allow them to prevail in negotiations, and so they paid little attention to the specific types of leverage their lower-power adversaries might employ. As a result, those in high-power often lose in negotiations and conflict — they don’t get what they want, waste time, and fail to create value. They get stuck in a take-it-or-leave-it or take-it-or-suffer mode. Sound familiar?

    In contrast, many of our most renowned world leaders learned to swim against this tide. Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Angela Merkel, Mary Robinson, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates Leymah Gbowee and Aung San Suu Kyi, to name a few, showed much more adaptivity in conflict. Rather than holding fast to a take-it-or-suffer mode, they responded to different disputes with diverse strategies, artistry and flexibility in a manner fitting with the situation, and knew to reserve confrontation and domination for those times when it was really necessary. In other words, they had what we call high Conflict IQs. They read situations more carefully, considered their short and longer-term objectives, and then employed a variety of different strategies in order to increase the probabilities that their agenda would succeed. They knew the difference between a temporary dispute and a long-term war. They knew when to stay the course and when to change strategies.

    In a series of studies being published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior this fall, we found that more adaptive leaders and managers have significantly higher levels of self-efficacy and well-being at work, assessed through measures of satisfaction with work in general, with coworkers, job-related affective well-being, and lower intentions to quit their jobs. This was even true in one study conducted with managers in South Korea, where being adaptive (using different strategies which fit different situations) even trumped a more prevalent use of cooperative, collectivist conflict strategies.

    We have found that more serious problems typically arise when leaders become fixated on any one approach to conflict (such as dominance) or when their chronic strategy fits poorly with the changing demands of situations. Even being overly benevolent in the face of conflicts with your subordinates all the time can undermine authority, decrease morale, and leave staff confused and demotivated.

    Today, the people of North Korea, Syria, Zimbabwe, and the Ukraine, to mention a few, continue to suffer from the rule of power-psychotic despots. As Forbes reported recently, “The planet remains beset with enough dictators to darken the days of millions under their thumb.” What the world needs now is a new generation of adaptive leaders raised on a steady diet of integrity, flexibility, skill and compassion for the needs and interests of others. When this is coupled with state governance and an international community capable of providing the checks and balances necessary to inhibit power madness, the world will be a brighter place.

    Unfortunately Putin, like many super optimistic leaders, is stuck in a domination vortex; a self-reinforcing dynamic fueled by his personality and by the social-cultural and political conditions he currently resides. And it will likely fall on the Russian and Ukrainian people, the EU and the rest of the international community to break through this psychotic episode through a steady diet of reality (data on the negative economic trends, casualties, and downward opinion polls), corrective action and perseverance.

  4. Harp’s been outpissed…..Cameron claims a 50 minute meeting with Putin that was ‘tense’….and that Putin is leaving early because of him.

    But Obama is leading the pack claiming Putin is a threat to the world, and the plane shootdown is appalling.

    Putin remains, as always, unmoved. LOL

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