Canada led joint G7 statement condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine: Freeland

Foreign ministers call on Russia to release the detained crew and ships

Canada has spearheaded a G7 foreign-ministers’ statement that condemns Russian aggression in Ukraine and urges the release of detained sailors, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says.

The joint communique says the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the high representative of the European Union, are concerned about Russia’s actions against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait and surrounding waters. On Sunday the Russian coast guard opened fire and seized three Ukrainian vessels, including their crews.

The foreign ministers urge restraint, respect for international law and no further escalation.

They call on Russia to release the detained crew and ships and refrain from impeding lawful passage through the Kerch Strait. The strait separates Crimea — Ukrainian territory Russia seized in 2014 — from the Russian mainland and allows ships to reach Ukrainian ports.

“Canada has indeed this week been very active on the tensions between Ukraine and Russia,” Freeland told reporters in Buenos Aires Friday, where she’s part of the Canadian delegation at a G20 summit.

She said Canada, which is president of the smaller and more exclusive G7 until the end of 2018, worked hard to ensure the statement was released Friday so that the position of the G7 on this issue would be clear as leaders meet.

“The G7 is united in condemning this Russian aggression, is united in calling for the release of those 24 sailors who are prisoners of war, is united in calling for the vessels to be released and is united in standing for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Freeland.

The statement also says the G7 countries will never recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

RELATED: Canada signs onto new NAFTA despite the persistence of steel and aluminum tariffs

The joint message comes two days after Russia announced it would deploy another battery of anti-aircraft missiles to Crimea, bolstering its hold on the region.

There had been mounting pressure on Canada from top Ukrainian officials to forge a diplomatic front against Russia’s actions.

Andriy Shevchenko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, had said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should use Canada’s position as G7 president to deal with the current crisis.

Shevchenko said Friday that he was “very satisfied” with the statement.

“We see clear wording, we see empathy and we feel support toward Ukraine based on international law. I would also like to acknowledge very impressive Canadian leadership on this issue within the G7 community,” he said in an interview.

Shevchenko said the statement is a result of trustworthy and meaningful communication between the Ukrainian government and the Canadian government.

Freeland said she spoke with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, and Trudeau spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday.

“President Poroshenko specifically said he was very glad to have the chance to speak to our prime minister on the eve of the G7 meeting and I’m not in the room right now but Canada certainly anticipates that this will be an important issue in those conversations,” Freeland said.

“Canada will speak, as we have in leading this G7 foreign ministers’ statement, with a strong voice and a voice on this issue where we are rightly, I believe, considered to have a real expertise,” said Freeland.

RELATED: Ukraine urges NATO to deploy ships amid standoff with Russia

Shevchenko said the words should be followed by action and hopes Canada continues to work with partners in the G7 and other organizations on this issue.

He said that action should include more NATO military presence in the Black Sea region and more sanctions against Russia. Shevchenko also said he thinks Russian commercial activities in the Black Sea region should be monitored and limited, including illegal activities of Russian commercial vessels in Ukrainian waters.

“We have a clear diagnosis of the situation and now prompt and efficient remedy is needed to follow.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Castlegar cyclist suffers non-life threatening injuries after being struck by vehicle

The incident occurred on the Kinnaird Bridge at approximately 8:50 a.m. on Thursday

Mercer Celgar to temporarily lay off majority of Castlegar mill workers in July

The company said it’s possible that the workers could be laid off for more than a month

First Energy Metals set to start gold exploration work in the West Kootenay

The work will be conducted at two of its sites near Nakusp and Nelson

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Nelson counsellor works online with university students in central Asia during pandemic

Robin Higgins is home from her job in Tajikistan because of COVID-19

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read