Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Harper departs for Europe amid Crimea crisis

Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves Ottawa on Friday, March 21, 2014 en route to Europe where he will visit the Ukraine, Netherlands, and Germany.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Stephen Harper has departed for Europe on a seven-day trip that takes him to the centre of the storm over Russia's seizure of Crimea, one of the continent's biggest crisis in decades.

The prime minister will be the first Group of Seven leader to visit Ukraine since the crisis there began. His plane left Ottawa around 9 am ET Friday.

Mr. Harper will also attend an emergency G7 meeting on Crimea on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague and will later visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has emerged as an intermediary between the West and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Story continues below advertisement

The Conservative prime minister will travel to Kiev Saturday and visit with Ukraine's interim government. He is also expected to visit Independence Square – the heart of the uprising that overthrew Ukraine's pro-Russia government. In his visit to Russia's doorstep, Mr. Harper will embrace the new Ukrainian government, which Moscow dismisses as illegitimate, and will stand with Ukraine in the struggle for Crimea.

The prime minister leaves Ottawa as Canada is looking seriously at levying punitive sanctions against firms in Russian business sectors over Moscow's takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.

To date, the penalties Canada meted out over Crimea have only targeted individuals: travel bans and economic sanctions against key Russian and Ukrainian figures responsible for the occupation and takeover of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula.

U.S. President Barack Obama raised the stakes in the East-West confrontation over Crimea Thursday by targeting some of Mr. Putin's closest long-time political and business allies with personal sanctions. Washington's latest sanctions began to bite into Russia's banking sector. One measure prohibits U.S. citizens or firms from doing business with Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg-based firm owned by associates of Mr. Putin.

Mr. Obama also signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against sectors of Russia's economy, such as petroleum, that he warned would be enacted should Moscow move beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine.

Canadian government sources say Ottawa is also considering sanctions against firms in Russia's business sector.

Mr. Harper is heading into next week's Group of Seven meeting seeking to persuade his G7 counterparts to speak with the same degree of conviction on Russia, amid concern in Ottawa that not all members are publicly opposing Moscow with the same intensity.

Story continues below advertisement

The Canadian government expects the future of Moscow's membership in the Group of Eight will be discussed at the meeting in The Hague. "You can expect the Prime Minister will articulate the view that we have to be steadfast in being strong in how we respond as a group of countries and have to stand our ground," a senior Canadian government official told The Globe and Mail earlier this week.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.