OTTAWA — Five things to know about the deteriorating Canada-Russia relationship:
Northern Exposure — Tensions over Canada and Russia’s Arctic territorial ambitions have been brewing since at least February 2009, when Canada scrambled F-18 fighter jets to intercept Russian bombers approaching Canadian airspace, then loudly publicized the incident. A Russian military spokesman said Canada should chill out: “All the international flight regulations were strictly respected.”
Sailor, Soldier, Spy — In January 2012, the RCMP arrested Canadian naval officer Jeffrey Delisle who had been passing classified information to the Russians from his Halifax post for five years, seriously compromising trust in Canada as a partner in the “Five-Eyes” intelligence-sharing network that links Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Crime in Crimea — Canada, with its huge Ukrainian diaspora, has been one of the most vocal critics of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in southern Ukraine and first imposed sanctions on Russia in March 2014. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a point of leading the charge, with his officials relating last November that Harper, upon meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit, told him: “I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.” A Putin spokesman said the Russian leader responded: “Unfortunately it is impossible, because we are not there.”
Buzz Kill — In March this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Jason Kenney claimed Russian jets provocatively buzzed a Canadian frigate in the Black Sea, an account that NATO officials later appeared to question. Harper subsequently paid a visit to HMCS Fredericton earlier this month with Kenney, where they reported being tracked by Russian naval vessels.
Stay Out of My Group — Harper used the G7 summit in Germany this month to publicly state that Russia, expelled from the group last year over its Ukraine incursion, should never be permitted back into the club as long as Putin remains Russia’s leader.