Ottawa, Ontario — Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement to mark the so-called Crimean “referendum” held one year ago and the subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia:
“A year ago this week, the so-called Crimean ‘referendum’ was held under the Putin regime’s influence to legitimize the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia two days later.
“Whether it takes five months or 50 years, Canada will never recognize this annexation as being the genuine will of the Ukrainian people. We have instead maintained our call that the Putin regime cease the destabilization campaign it has orchestrated and fully withdraw from Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
“Toward this objective, Canada and its partners have imposed a broad range of sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities, including targeted sanctions on Russia’s finance, defence and energy sectors and key officials involved in the illegal annexation of Crimea.
“Furthermore, in support of NATO measures in response to Russian aggression, Canada has played a leading role in deploying air, land and maritime forces in the area to promote security and stability in Eastern and Central Europe, as part of the Alliance’s Assurance Measures. It is also contributing to the NATO Trust Funds for Ukraine, as well as to each of the three NATO Centres of Excellence in the Baltic States, which play a key role in enabling the Alliance to better address regional security challenges related to strategic communications, energy security and cyber defence.
“In addition, our Government has taken a number of other steps to help the Ukrainian people as they work to restore political and economic stability, most notably through electoral assistance, support for economic and social development, and providing military training and non-lethal equipment to the Ukrainian government.
“Canada will not forget Vladimir Putin’s reckless actions in Ukraine. Any solution to the current crisis will need to respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and Constitution of Ukraine.
“The people of Ukraine are showing tremendous resilience and courage in the face of aggression. Canada will continue to support the Ukrainian people’s fight for freedom and democracy for as long as it takes.”