The Current

Re-engagement with Russia a dangerous proposition, says anti-Putin activist

The Conservative opposition is furious with the Trudeau government's intent to re-engage with Russia. Critics say it is futile and naive. But others insist Canada's silent treatment hasn't worked. The Current looks at what the new relationship should look like.
Anti-Putin activist Bill Browder cautions Putin will laugh at Canada's efforts to influence Russia through re-engagement. (Ivan Sekretarev/AFP/Getty Images)

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At the 2014 G20 Summit, then prime minister Stephen Harper famously avoided Vladimir Putin completely, except for a tense handshake and a gritted message for the Russian leader to quote "get out of Ukraine." 

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Sept.5, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Now, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion wants to thaw the relationship and start talking again. And Russia's ambassador to Canada, appears to welcome the new tone too.

We need to restore true dialogue between Russia and Canada. We need to go back to the common sense as opposed to name calling and brinksmanship statements that we so often heard before October elections-  Russia's ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev on CBC, Jan. 2016

While some degree of re-engagement with Russia would definitely seem to be on the way, there remains questions about just how cordial relations should be.

Guests in this segment:

  • Bill Browder, anti-Putin activist, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, and author of Red Notice.
  • Jeremy Kinsman, formerly Canada's ambassador to the Russian Federation from 1992 to 1996.

The Current did request an interview with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, as well as Russia's ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev. Neither was available.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.