Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada, U.S. Need to Work Together to Face Russia 'Challenge': Dion

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada, U.S. Need to Work Together to Face Russia 'Challenge': Dion

Article excerpt

Canada, U.S. must face Russia challenge: Dion


OTTAWA - Canada wants to work with the United States to face the "challenge" posed by Russia, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Thursday.

Dion steered clear of weighing in directly on comments Donald Trump made during the U.S. election campaign in which he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the minister said Canada and the U.S. have a shared interest in dealing with Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

"We want to have a very positive and constructive role to play in our relationship with the United States bilaterally and also what we can do together in the world, including facing the challenge (of) Russia," Dion said in an interview.

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and its backing of separatist rebels in the country's east have prompted NATO to bolster its military footprint in eastern Europe.

"The NATO policy is deterrence and dialogue. Canada was alone to do deterrence without dialogue and we are correcting that," said Dion.

The Conservative opposition has criticized Dion and the Liberals for re-engaging with Russia, accusing it of "cosying up" to the "Putin regime." Former prime minister Stephen Harper avoided direct contact with Putin at international events during most of his last two years in office, as his government downgraded diplomatic contact.

Dion said after the U.S. election that Canada would maintain sanctions on Russia. Last week, his spokesman Joseph Pickerill told The Canadian Press that Canada's diplomatic re-engagement with Russia did not mean "business as usual."

"The duration of our sanctions are clearly linked to Russia's complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine's sovereignty," he said.

"Conversely, Canada, together with its G7 partners, stands ready take further restrictive measures should Russia's actions so require."

On Thursday, European Council President Donald Tusk said it would be hard to preserve the West's unity on Moscow after Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Tusk told a Polish television station that in a recent conversation he had with the president-elect, Trump was more concerned with Britain's decision to leave the European Union after this summer's Brexit vote than he was about Russia. …

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