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

Vancouver Giants fans cheer on team

New booster club aims to unite supporters of Langley-based hockey team

VIDEO: Highway One to be widened east to 264th Street in Langley

The $235 million project includes upgrades to overpasses and a rail bridge

Frankly Speaking: Questions to ponder before SkyTrain reaches Langley

Columnist Frank Bucholtz looks at the impact of SkyTrain before it arrives

SASSY finalists impress judges

Nominees ‘have a maturity beyond their years’

Our View: Retail pot rules needed soon for Langley

Public input will help create some certainty for our marijuana future

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver for rider complaints

TransLink releases list, with Route 319 at the top

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Bus driver assault in Vancouver once again raises safety concerns

A 49-year-old Surrey man was released on a promise to appear in court. No charge has been laid

Most Read