Russian Embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin unproductive

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin at a news conference this week.

But a leading expert on Russia and the Arctic is dismissing the dust-up as the result of a mistaken prime minister, and a junior Russian diplomat with an itchy Twitter finger.

Trudeau said on Wednesday during a Toronto press conference that Putin needs to start playing a more positive role in the world on a variety of fronts, from Ukraine, to Syria, to the Arctic, as well as answering for Russia’s role in the nerve gas attack in Britain two weeks ago.

RELATED: Foreign election interference a reality, says Trudeau after Putin re-election

The embassy tweeted its response on Thursday, accusing Trudeau of using confrontational and unproductive rhetoric.

Trudeau also said on Wednesday that Canada needs to be vigilant about protecting the integrity of its electoral systems from foreign interference. However, the Russian Embassy tweet did not mention election meddling.

Trudeau’s remarks came after several recent warnings about possible Russian interference in the 2019 federal election, including from eastern European diplomats in Ottawa, as well as top NATO researcher.

Trudeau listed some positive behaviour he said he’d like to see from Putin.

“Whether it’s pulling back of his engagement in the Donbass or leaving Crimea,” the prime minister said, “whether it’s taking responsibility for … the important questions that the U.K. has asked after the terrible poisoning incident a few weeks ago in Salisbury, whether it’s questions around NATO, questions around Syria, questions around the Arctic.”

The House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion this week that blames Russia for what it calls a despicable nerve gas attack in Britain that killed former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury. The British government says they were victims of a Russian nerve agent.

Trudeau’s final example of the Arctic drew the ire of the Russian Embassy in its tweet. The Arctic is one area where the two countries have tried to co-operate through the Arctic Council and bilaterally.

“We regret PM Trudeau’s confrontational rhetoric at yesterday’s Toronto press-conference prompted by UK slanderous Russophobic hysteria,” said Thursday’s tweet.

“This language of ultimatums is totally unacceptable & counterproductive, especially for bilateral dialogue on important issues, like the Arctic.”

Trudeau’s office did not reply to a request for comment on why he included a reference to the Arctic in his remarks, or whether Canada’s Arctic policy had taken a negative turn with Russia.

RELATED: Canadians joining #DeleteFacebook amid fears of electoral meddling

Michael Byers, an expert on the Arctic, dismissed the affair as an inconsequential chain of events.

“The prime minister made a tiny mistake and a junior diplomat picked up on it. End of story,” said Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia.

Byers said he has travelled to Moscow and met with Russian foreign ministry officials as part of his work on Arctic foreign policy.

“The Arctic is one of just a couple of places where Russian-Western co-operation remains good.”

Byers also said no weight should be given to the fact the statement was made on a Twitter account linked to the Russian Embassy.

He said the account is run by a press secretary “who is a very active tweeter — you might even call him a troll.”

Byers said he has blocked the account on Twitter.

“Yes, he is an employee of the Russian foreign ministry, but he is a long way from the centre.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Qualicum district students to develop experiments that could head into space

Youngsters compete to have designs reach International Space Station

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Qualicum Beach moves on grant for Eaglecrest roundabout

Council votes unanimously to have staff push for application

Dying motorcyclist from Coombs gets last-ride tribute

Friends grant Corinna Pitney’s wish ‘to hear bikes roar, to see leather and chrome’

Parksville author shares journey on famed 800 km trail

Books, movie inspire Roxey Edwards to walk Camino de Santiago, write book

Naked man jumping into Toronto shark tank a ‘premeditated’ stunt: official

The man swam in a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Most Read