OTTAWA – Russian actions against Ukraine are “aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic” and pose a grave threat to world peace, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said today.
Pro-Russian groups have occupied buildings in 10 cities in eastern Ukraine in recent days, prompting Harper to use his harshest words yet against what he called “Russian provocateurs sent by the Putin regime.”
It’s time to rally the world against the danger posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Harper said at a hastily assembled photo-op event with ambassadors from Ukraine, Estonia, Poland and Latvia.
“I know this is of great concern to our NATO allies in the region, but it should be a great concern to all of us,” Harper said.
“When a major power acts in a way that is so clearly aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic, this represents a significant threat to the peace and stability of the world and it’s time we all recognized the depth and the seriousness of that threat.”
He said he’s dispatching Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to talk with allies in eastern Europe. Baird will then head on to the Middle East.
Baird echoed the prime minister in blaming Russia for the latest events, scoffing: “I don’t know who the Russian federation thinks it’s kidding when it tries to pretend that it has nothing to do with them.”
“There are very clear and disconcerting parallels between what is happening in eastern Ukraine and events leading up to Russia’s illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea,” Baird continued, urging Russia to back down.
Canada is prepared to impose stronger sanctions against Putin’s regime, Harper said.
“But as I say, the most important thing we need to do is to rally all of our allies throughout the western world and throughout the greater global community to understand that peace and stability is being threatened here in a way that has not been threatened since the end of the Cold War.”
Putin is fighting history and will lose, he added.
“We also know from history that anybody who makes it their historical mission to turn the clock back, as Mr. Putin has determined to do, that those kinds of missions always fail in the end. But we will do all in our power to make it fail.”
Harper also paid tribute to the people of Ukraine, saying their determination to secure their freedom and independence has no limit.