Baird and EU foreign policy chief Ashton cautious on Ukraine ceasefire

Canada won’t hesitate to level additional sanctions against Russia if the current fragile ceasefire with Ukraine does not hold, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday.

OTTAWA — Canada won’t hesitate to level additional sanctions against Russia if the current fragile ceasefire with Ukraine does not hold, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday.

Baird continued to express skepticism over Russia’s actions after talks with Catherine Ashton, his European Union counterpart.

Following their morning discussions, Baird and Ashton said Canada and Europe stand as one in opposing Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“In the face of unacceptable provocations in Ukraine, we continue to stand united in support of free, independent and democratic nations,” they said in a joint statement.

Ashton’s visit comes as a fragile ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine continues to hold, amid discussions in Brussels of possible additional EU sanctions against Russia in response to the clash between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebel separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“Obviously we want to see a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine,” Baird told reporters as he stood beside Ashton at Foreign Affairs headquarters. “We remain deeply skeptical of the Russian Federation’s willingness to have a major de-escalation in this crisis.

“Let’s give a political solution a chance. Obviously if more provocation and more negative aspects emerge, we would advocate strongly for additional measures.”

Ashton expressed guarded optimism, saying much would turn on a Monday evening consultation with on-the-ground observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

“We have to see the effects of the ceasefire, hour by hour,” Ashton said.

“We all have to watch very carefully and be certain of what developments are taking place,” she added.

“I want to say very clearly that we want this ceasefire to be strong and solid.”

Last month, Canada imposed a new round of sanctions and travel bans on several top Russian and Ukrainian politicians and groups with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin in co-ordination with the United States and the EU.

Russia retaliated with its own sanctions that mainly target Canadian pork exports, which federal government figures say amounted to $563 million in 2012.

Ashton was on her way to Washington, but stopped in Ottawa to announce an agreement in principle on the Canada-European Union Strategic Partnership Agreement, a pact that affirms shared values and goals and calls for closer co-operation on several fronts, including security.

The agreement will consolidate co-operation on energy, sustainable development and the environment and opens new opportunities for research and innovation.

It also outlines shared values and objectives, including democracy, human rights and the rule of law, international peace and security and effective multilateralism.

Ashton said the new pact will make for closer ties.

Both ministers said it will complement the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, which Canada and Europe have agreed to in principle, but have to yet to rubber stamp with the release of a final text.

The final wording of this trade and investment pact has yet to be finalized, and few details have been formally released.

Both ministers expressed optimism that CETA would soon be concluded for good, with Ashton suggesting that a Canada-EU summit in Ottawa later this month will see the final inking of the pact after the two sides reached an agreement in principle in October 2013.

Just Posted

Firefighters to visit Oriole Park homes near industrial fire to answer questions

About 80 homes were evacuated on Wednesday because of nearby fire

Trump Russia probe finally delivers some answers

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some… Continue reading

Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline extended

OTTAWA — The federal government is delaying a decision on the Trans… Continue reading

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

EDMONTON — Jason Kenney, Alberta’s incoming premier, said he cordially talked pipelines… Continue reading

Shooting victims in Penticton, B.C., remembered before vigil at city park

PENTICTON, B.C. — Family and friends are remembering neighbours who were gunned… Continue reading

Updated: Industrial fabrication shop in Red Deer destroyed in morning fire

About 30 workers got out safely before building in north end gutted

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Netflix adds 9.6M subscribers in 1Q as competition heats up

SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix kicked off the year with the biggest subscriber… Continue reading

Liberals find anti-Trudeau sentiment on campaign trail in Prince Edward Island

OTTAWA — When voters in Prince Edward Island go to the polls… Continue reading

Officer tells of finding body at trial for B.C. dad accused of killing daughters

VANCOUVER — A police officer choked up Tuesday as he recalled finding… Continue reading

Man faces murder charges in slayings of two men, two women in Penticton, B.C.

PENTICTON, B.C. — A former city employee described as a hard-working, civic-minded… Continue reading

A look at Alberta’s elections since the province was created in 1905

EDMONTON — A chronology of Alberta elections: Nov. 9, 1905: Lawyer Alexander… Continue reading

Most Read