Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vladimir Putin Wants to Be Rival to the West, Not a Partner, Harper Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vladimir Putin Wants to Be Rival to the West, Not a Partner, Harper Says

Article excerpt

Putin sees role as rival, not partner: Harper

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BERLIN - Chances are slim that Russian President Vladimir Putin will ever be allowed back in the G8, Stephen Harper said Thursday following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the crisis in eastern Europe.

"He has not desired to be a partner, he's desired to be a rival, and that's just the reality that we have to come to terms with," Harper, standing alongside his German friend and counterpart, told a news conference.

"I don't see any way of a return for Mr. Putin to the table unless Russia fundamentally changes its course."

The G7 nations -- the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan -- effectively booted Russia from the G8 earlier this week over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula following a pro-Western uprising.

Harper and Merkel met shortly before the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution affirming Ukraine's territorial integrity and deeming the annexation illegal.

A hundred members voted in favour of the resolution, while 11 opposed and 58 abstained. Such votes aren't legally binding, but they generally provide a gauge of international opinion on critical events of the day.

The International Monetary Fund also pledged up to $18 billion in loans to Ukraine to help it prop up its teetering economy.

When Harper and Merkel emerged from their hour-long discussion, they said they're united in their view that Russia has grossly violated Ukrainian sovereignty by annexing Crimea.

In advance of next week's NATO meeting in Brussels on the crisis in eastern Europe, Harper said: "No one is seeking a military escalation."

But at the same time, Russian aggression "has the attention" of NATO, particularly NATO partners in eastern Europe, Harper added.

Merkel, asked how much pain Germany was willing to endure as a result of the economic sanctions against Russia, said she was unconcerned. …

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