Canada imposes travel bans over crisis in Ukraine
TORONTO (AP) — Canada on Friday imposed travel bans on those threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine and expelled nine Russian soldiers training in Canada.
Foreign Affairs minister John Baird said the nine Russian soldiers, who were participating in military exercises in Canada, must leave the country by the end of the day.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the ban on travel to Canada would affect a number of individuals but did not identify them. He said the ban was to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “illegal military occupation” of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
“Today, our government is taking additional measures to further increase pressure on President Putin and the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops to their bases,” Harper said.
Canada, home to more than 1 million people of Ukrainian descent, is sending two observers to join an unarmed military mission in Ukraine.
Harper has said Canada will not recognize Crimea’s upcoming referendum on whether to join Russia. Canada has also suspended its military activities with Russia and suspended Canada’s participation in the Canada-Russia Intergovernmental Economic Commission, established to promote economic relations between the two countries.
“These actions emphasize that we see Russia’s actions as being totally unacceptable,” Baird told reporters Friday. “Russia has invaded Crimea. They’re occupying it with military force. No referendum can have any validity while that is taking place.”