Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Ukraine

R. to L.: Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper and executive producer Kontakt TV Jurij KlufasRight Honourable Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper participated in a question and answer session at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention at the Toronto Convention Center, on Monday March 3, 2014. The following is an exclusive interview conducted by Jurij Klufas, executive producer, KONTAKT TV with the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, discussing the crisis in Ukraine.


Jurij Klufas: Mr. Prime Minister, we have a global situation here, the world community was not able to do anything in relation to Russia as far as Iran was concerned, then came Syria, the world didn’t take up your call in relation to standing up to Russia. Now we have Ukraine. Mr. Putin has, no surprise, not taken any consideration of the political and diplomatic harshness that has come. Is there anyway that Canada has an opportunity to influence NATO as far as military or economic help?

Stephen Harper: “First of all, I think it’s important that we put this in context. I don’t think what happened over the weekend can be compared with Russia’s support for a bad regime in Syria or Iran. We are now talking about President Putin’s own actions; his own actions as president of Russia in invading sovereign territory that is clearly not his. This is on a whole different scale and frankly, this is really a through back to a another kind of era, invading a territory, claiming that just because there are ethnic minorities- that’s the kind of thing we saw before the second world war and this is without precedent in the modern era. And so this obviously requires a specific kind of condemnation. I would say this: First of all, without going into specifics, obviously we’re working very closely with all our G7 partners and I think that there is a pretty strong consensus over not just diplomatic measures but over looking at a whole range of diplomatic and economic measures that can be taken. And what I will say and I believe will be the feeling of our G7 partners is that these are not merely short term measures. This is going to be in my judgment a serious breach between Russia and our Western friends, until this is repaired and this could be a very long time. This is not just going to be condemnation this weekend. This is going to be, should Mr. Putin continue on this path, should he not see fit to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, as I said I think this will be a matter of bad relations and series of diplomatic and economic actions that are going to go on for some  long time, until he withdraws.”

Jurij Klufas: Mr. Prime Minister, you spoke earlier with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mr. Yatseniuk. What was discussed in that conversation?

Stephen Harper: “Well look, the primary reason for my conversation was just to convey to the Prime Minister of Ukraine that at this difficult time, he can be assured that the Canadian population, Canada and I’m not just referring to our Ukrainian Canadian community, but Canadians stand absolutely behind Ukraine. We are behind Ukraine with friendship, in support of Ukraine’s independence, of its territorial integrity, and of its Euro Atlantic aspirations. And these are things that are not going to change. Obviously, that government has enormous challenges in front of it, not just the challenges Mr. Putin is presenting but financial challenges, governance challenges in terms of new elections and Canada certainly will be standing ready and working with the new Ukrainian authorities to assist with what is going to be a very difficult transition process. Look, I’ve said this before, not withstanding the sadness of what has occurred in the last three days, we have really tremendous admiration for the Ukrainian people standing up virtually unarmed against an attempt to take the country back to the past, back to a Soviet past, against the will of the people. We are very impressed that Ukrainians stood up to that, as I said, stood up to brutality with virtually no arms to fight back with and have come this far. We know that the Ukrainian people are in this for the long term and we are in this for the long term with them.”

Jurij Klufas: Mr. Prime Minister, have you had the opportunity to discuss,  either with the President of the United States or with other  EU member about some kind of joint action or action that’s sort of coordinated in relation to all of this?

Stephen Harper: I’ve been speaking with other G7 leaders over the past couple of weeks and I spoke with President Obama on Saturday. And as you know, the G7, Canada the United States, the major European powers, and Japan- we have now all put out statements indicating that we are all ceasing our preparations for the G8 in Sochi and working at coordinating our other actions. Look, I think that under President Putin, Russia has been moving farther and farther away from the democratic ideals of an advanced economy in so many ways. And I think this is obviously a new level, but I think we are all sending a pretty clear signal,  as I said today, that should Russia not change its behavior its expulsion from the G8 will become inevitable. And as I say, look, Russia will still have some friends but in many ways Russia will find itself treated as an outlaw state by much of the world.


(Transcribed from an audio interview by Walter Derzko)


R. to L.: Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper and executive producer Kontakt TV Jurij Klufas