Ottawa urged to expel Russian diplomats as Ukraine war anniversary nears – National

A House committee has said Canada should expel Russian diplomats participating in activities “not consistent” with its role, but it is unclear whether Ottawa will commit to doing so. be.

The Canadian government has not expelled a Russian diplomat since Moscow launched all-out war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

In studying the war, the Foreign Affairs and International Development Commission released a report last week detailing its impact and made 14 recommendations to the federal government on how to continue to ramp up aid to Ukraine.

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These included the government “expelling Russian diplomats involved in activities inconsistent with their official diplomatic status.”

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In March 2022, four European Union (EU) countries expelled several Russian diplomats accused of espionage. Canada last expelled a Russian diplomat in March 2018. Keeping pace with Britain over nerve agent attacks.

“I have no definitive position on whether we will accept all recommendations or anything else, or whether we will accept each recommendation specifically, but what I can say is that we should expel Russian diplomats. Speaking about the background, he told Global News.

“The notion of reciprocity in diplomacy and the fact that the actions of the people of Moscow matter so much, that mentality hasn’t really changed.”

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Global Affairs Canada (GAC) spokesperson Grantly Franklin told Global News in an email that it was “important” to keep the Canadian embassy in Moscow.

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“This will keep communication channels open, allow for on-the-spot monitoring of developments to counter Russian disinformation, and enable the provision of consular services to Canadian citizens,” Franklin said. increase.

“This requires allowing Russian embassies to remain open to each other.”

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In April 2022, the Russian ambassador to Ottawa said the diplomatic expulsion would be dealt with similarly by expelling Canadian officials from Russia. The Hill Times reportedEarlier that month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the diplomatic expulsion a “symbolic gesture” and said Canadian diplomats in Moscow played too important a role.

Orest Zakydalsky, a senior policy adviser to the Ukrainian-Canadian Parliament (UCC), told Global News his organization didn’t understand why Russia should still have a diplomatic mission to Canada.

“Regarding this recommendation, this is something the government should do anyway. Diplomats engaged in anything not related to diplomatic work should be expelled regardless of the committee’s recommendations,” he said. .

“Their expulsion would not be symbolic, but it would actually enhance Canada’s security.”

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Government sources told Global News that Ottawa is reviewing its recommendations and that the government will “always follow the Geneva Conventions and the rules and expectations set by them”, and the Russian ambassador has been summoned six times since full-scale military action. added. War has begun.

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“As long as he continues to parrot Russian propaganda, he will continue to be summoned,” they said.

“For us, the people of Moscow are very important.

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in that reportthe Foreign Relations Committee said as part of the investigation, GAC officials testified that “whether in relation to the Russian ambassador here or through our ambassador in Moscow… cut off opportunities for high-level contact. I issued a note of caution about this.”

Marta Dichuk, an associate professor of history and political science at Western University, told the commission that Canada could still do more to curtail its “diplomatic ties” with Russia.

“They have to keep their embassies and consulates open — their diplomatic channels have to stay open — but the size of their diplomatic missions doesn’t have to be the same as in peacetime,” he said. Dichok said in his testimony.

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Prime Minister Trudeau said in April that Ottawa had been forced to bolster Moscow’s diplomacy after President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the 2018 poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter in Salisbury, England. It said it has reduced the size of its staff.

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Zakydalsky said the UCC will continue to press Ottawa on the issue.

“This is a matter of Canadian security and we will continue to insist to the government that there should be no Russian diplomats in Canada trying to agitate and destroy our society.” he said.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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