OTTAWA, July 26 It is hard to envisage how
Russia could ever be allowed back into the Group of major
industrialized nations, given Moscow's aggression in Ukraine,
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Saturday.
Russia formally joined the G7 in 1998, when the body was
renamed the G8. Members voted in March to suspend Russia, citing
its role in the Crimea conflict.
"Through its actions, Russia under President Vladimir Putin
has demonstrated that it does not share the values of this
community of nations, dedicated as we are to democracy,
international security, and the rule of law," Harper wrote in an
editorial in the Globe and Mail newspaper.
"Given this, it is difficult to foresee any circumstance
under which Mr. Putin's Russia could be readmitted to the family
of G7 nations," he said.
Harper's right-leaning Conservatives took power in 2006,
since when Ottawa's relations with Russia have rarely been
better than cool. Harper took a hard line from the start of the
Ukrainian crisis, demanding Russia be kicked out of the G8.
"With Mr. Putin's Russia increasingly autocratic at home and
dangerously aggressive abroad, now is not the time to ease the
diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime," said Harper.
Canada has imposed sanctions on nearly 150 Ukrainian and
Russian individuals and entities and promised more than C$220
million ($204 million) in loans and loan guarantees to Ukraine.
Kiev's ambassador to Canada complained this week that none of
the aid had been handed over.
Harper said the money would flow "once the appropriate
conditions have been met to ensure that the funds are being used
for their intended purposes" - an apparent reference to concerns
about widespread corruption in Ukraine.
Despite Canada's tough line on Russia, it has so far not
sanctioned two key Putin allies who have Canadian business
After the downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held
eastern Ukraine last week the European Union has taken a tougher
stance against Russia. On Friday the EU reached an outline
agreement to impose the first economic sanctions on Russia.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Stephen Powell)