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.

Just Posted

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Boundary Showcase, Take a Seat exhibits call for submissions

The upcoming spring exhibits call for community involvement.

Celebrating Family Day at Wilgress Lake fishing derby

The annual event was attended by over 125 people.

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

Regulator’s report unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline expansion battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Most Read