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MH17: Ottawa blames Putin for downed Malaysian airliner

Foreign Minister John Baird.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada will broaden sanctions against Russia in the wake of the attack on a civilian airliner over Ukraine, with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird pinning the deaths of 298 passengers and crew on Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Baird said he didn't believe Moscow ordered the destruction of the Malaysian jet, but he said the Russian President's arming of Ukrainian rebels and stoking violence in the region led to this disaster.

"The Kremlin may not have pulled the trigger but it certainly loaded the gun and put it in the murderers' hands," Mr. Baird told a news conference in London.

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"Canada will be imposing new sanctions against a broad range of people and entities in various Russian sectors."

Canada has not yet spelled out details of these broader sanctions against parts of the Russian economy but last week the U.S. slapped fresh punitive measures on two of Russia's major energy firms, a couple of big financial institutions, and eight weapons firms.

A Canadian government source said the new measures will target specific sectors of the Russian economy and will even more precisely name specific companies within these sectors.

Mr. Baird said all evidence "indicates Russian-backed provocateurs in Ukraine" as responsible for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last Thursday, but added that the ultimate blame lies at the feet of Mr. Putin.

"He has let slip the dogs of war and now he has to face up to the consequences," the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

Mr. Baird said Mr. Putin can end the crisis by withdrawing Russia's troops from Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and the Ukraine-Russian border, ending support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and using his "considerable influence" to broker a ceasefire between Kiev and the rebels.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada needs to go further with penalties after the air disaster.

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"The outrageous and criminal act of shooting down a civilian airliner last week is a direct product of Russia's military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine, and demonstrates the need for the international community to continue applying pressure on the Putin regime," Mr. Harper said in a statement.

"It is clear that the Putin regime's continuing provocative military action against Ukraine, its illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula, and its failure to end its support to armed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine constitute a threat to international peace and security."

Since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine, Canada has imposed sanctions against 110 individuals and entities, both Russian and Ukrainian, responsible for violating the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine.

Mr. Baird said he agreed with Kiev's characterization of pro-Moscow rebels as terrorists and said the technology used to bring down the airliner appears to have come from Russia.

"The mounting evidence pointing the finger at the rebels is real and significant and growing by the day. Obviously you don't buy this type of equipment from Wal-Mart," Mr. Baird said.

"We know who has been providing material support for the rebels," he said, referring to Moscow.

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He said Canada had already been preparing for possible broader sanctions but the attack on the Malaysian airliner "certainly expedited" things.

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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

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