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

Polls officially open at 8 a.m. on Oct. 24, 2020, across B.C. in the 2020 snap election. (Black Press files)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote in Skeena riding

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Independent candidate Martin Holzbauer, BC NDP candidate Nicole Halbauer, and incumbent BC Liberal candidate Ellis Ross. (Jake Wray/Clare Rayment/Black Press)
Skeena candidates talk Indigenous issues

Residential schools, Coastal GasLink Pipeline, and rights and title among issues addressed

Independent candidate Martin Holzbauer, BC NDP candidate Nicole Halbauer, and incumbent BC Liberal candidate Ellis Ross are running in the Skeena riding. (Jake Wray/Clare Rayment/Black Press)
Skeena candidates talk natural resources

Mining, oil and gas, and forestry are important industries in the Skeena riding

Courtney Preyser is a music teacher and librarian for several schools in Kitimat, and her passion for music and literacy shows in her work. (Clare Rayment)
In Our Valley: Courtney Preyser

Preyser grew up with a passion for music and literacy, which shows in her work and life everyday

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Clare’s Corner: Giving thanks despite the negatives

Thanksgiving may have passed, but it’s never too late to count your blessings

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read