March 06, 2014 - 2:57 PM
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Crimea is a region under "illegal military occupation" and that Canada will not recognize its forthcoming referendum on whether to join Russia.
Lawmakers in Crimea have voted unanimously to split from Ukraine and join Russia, and will hold a referendum March 16 to allow voters on the disputed peninsula to weigh in on the decision.
Harper describes Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an act of aggression and a clear violation both of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law.
The prime minister says Canada continues to view the situation in Ukraine "with the gravest concern" and will co-operate with its G7 partners and like-minded allies.
Moscow has so far refused to withdraw its troops from the strategic region, which also houses Russia's Black Sea fleet — a tense standoff that has triggered international sanctions against Russia and visa restrictions on its officials.
Ukraine's prime minister has called the Crimean lawmakers' decision illegitimate, but Russia says if Crimea votes to become part of Russia, they would introduce legislation to speed up the procedure.
UPDATE 4-Obama warns on Crimea, orders sanctions over Russian moves in Ukraine - Reuters
Western countries demonstrate 'hypocritical indignation' on Crimea referendum - Voice of Russia (Russian government international radio)
In Ukraine's Crimea, a tense and surreal standoff - The Toronto Sun
Crimea sets vote to break away from Ukraine - Business Week news
5 lessons for a new Cold War - CNN (Opinion)
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014