Canada extends further sanctions in face of Russian defiance
Russia's ambassador to Canada shrugs off sanctions saying 'they never lead to anything'
As Russia moved to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced on Tuesday that Canada will impose another round of economic sanctions and travel bans against an additional 17 Ukrainian and Russian officials.
"Russia had and will continue to face a very clear choice: engage with the international community constructively and through diplomacy, or continue to face increased isolation which will only grow more painful to those closest to President Putin," Baird said during a news conference in Montreal.
Canada's foreign affairs minister said Russia could "absolutely" get expelled from the group of G8 leaders, pointing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's remarks from last June just as the G8 summit got underway in Northern Ireland.
"This is G7 plus one," Harper said at the time.
Today, Baird said there was "wisdom" in Harper's remarks.
Earlier in the day, Russia's Ambassador to Canada Georgiy Mamedov was defiant in the face of Western sanctions, shrugging off the announcement by Harper on Monday.
"I have lived through such sanctions before. They never lead to anything. They just postponed inevitable diplomatic and political solutions," Mamedov told reporters during a news conference in Ottawa.
Mamedov mocked these and other similar sanctions announced by the U.S., saying they would have no impact.
The Russian ambassador said he didn't expect further sanctions, but if they came, Russia would survive those too.
"I feel quite confident that we come to a compromise. I don't expect any escalation of sanctions, but even in the worst case scenario, I shall assure that we will not only survive but prosper, given our diversified economic ties with other countries in the world."
Canada condemns deadly violence
Baird also condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters, saying, "We've been promised tolerance in Crimea by its occupying power, but instead we have seen the wounds of torture on the body of an innocent, murdered Crimean Tartar.
"This is entirely unacceptable and we condemn it in the strongest terms."
Baird issued a formal statement denouncing the death of Tatar activist Reshat Ametov, who he said has been missing from Simferopol since March 3, after he attended a protest against Russian military intimidation.
Baird said Ametov was found dead today in Belogorsk.
"According to a report from Human Rights Watch, his body bore signs of torture," Baird said.
Earlier in the day, Mamedov denied that Russia "invaded or occupied" Crimea saying that "people there want to return back home."
The Russian ambassador said there was "jubilation" in the streets of Crimea following Sunday's referendum. "My son yesterday returned from Crimea, I trust him, he was telling me that there's a jubilation there."
"We all want stability and prosperity of Ukraine. You want it from an ideological and geopolitical standpoint. We want it from a historical standpoint," Mamedov said.
He spoke of the ties that bind Russians and Ukrainians saying the goal was to "restore stability so that Ukraine can happily live in integration with the European Union and at the same time restore its traditional cultural and other ties with Russia."
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty earlier on Tuesday to annex Crimea, describing the move as correcting past injustice and a necessary response to what he called Western encroachment upon Russia's vital interests.
Putin said, in an emotional 40-minute speech: "In people's hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia."
Brian Stewart, a distinguished senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, said Putin saw an "opportunistic situation" and is now engaged in a game of "diplomatic chicken."
"What he'll do is put maximum pressure on Ukraine to give up the dream of joining with the West and the European Union and become much more friendly towards Moscow," he said in an interview on CBC News Network on Tuesday.
Stabbing politically motivated?
Mamedov also told reporters that Canadian authorities tried to "persuade" him that an attack against Andrey Gorobets, a Russian diplomat last week, wasn't politically motivated.
"I received a call by your authorities, who asked me to convey to Moscow that it has nothing to do with all this tension," Mamedov said.
Kevin Martin, a Canadian Force reservist, is out on bail after an appearance in court on Monday. Martin, 32, was charged with aggravated assault.
Mamedov said Gorobets is recovering in a Russian hospital.
"Thank god he is in a Moscow hospital right now, recovering from his many wounds."
The Russian ambassador said he did not know what the motive behind the attack was, but that his job was to protect his staff.
Mamedov indicated his diplomat would not be returning to Canada.
"I will not risk his life twice," Mamedov said.
With files from The Associated Press