Feb 26, 2014

By Jane Brown

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Russia’s ambassador to Canada says talk about the possibility of Russian troops invading Ukraine is nonsense.  Georgiy Mamedov says it’s an insult to the intelligence of Canadians to even suggest that might happen in light of recent events in Kyiv.  His comments came yesterday, two days after Immigration Minister Chris Alexander suggested Canada could impose sanctions against Russia if it were to interfere in Ukraine.

By way of note, we are learning this morning that Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has reportedly ordered an immediate test of combat readiness of troops in central and western Russia.  The report did not mention Ukraine. The Kremlin was unable to confirm the order to The Associated Press.

This will be welcome news among Ukrainians who lost loved ones in last week’s violent crackdown on protesters.  Ukraine’s acting interior minister wrote on his facebook page today that he has disbanded the riot police force known as Berkut that many accuse of last week’s deadly attacks on protesters.

Meantime, Justin Trudeau’s apology for his joke about Russia invading Ukraine because they lost in Olympic hockey has been accepted by Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada.  And Vadym Prystaiko praised the Liberal leader yesterday for being the first Canadian politician to sign a book of condolence.

Trudeau has explained why he waited until yesterday to say sorry.  “I wanted to make sure that I had the chance to express directly to leaders within the Ukrainian community including Paul Grod at the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the ambassador himself, how seriously the Liberal party takes the situation in Ukraine and to say that I regret my comments about Russia.”

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird leaves today for Ukraine to get a first hand look at the crisis. Prime Minister Harper says Baird will offer Canada’s support for efforts to restore democracy in Ukraine.  “Given that the situation is still fluid, that we in the west and certainly, we who are friends of Ukrainian freedom, show as quickly as we can and right on the ground, our support for what the Ukrainian people have achieved thus far.”  John Baird will be accompanied by representatives of the Ukrainian-Canadian community and MPs.


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