Russia summons Canadian diplomat to protest 'regime change' statement

G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi
Canada's Foreign Minister Melanie Joly attends the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Pool via REUTERS

March 21 (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it had protested to Canada's top diplomat in Moscow over comments by Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly about "regime change" in Russia.

The ministry said it summoned Canadian charge d'affaires Brian Ebel on Monday and told him Joly's comments were unacceptable. A Canadian government source confirmed the official had been summoned.

"We're able to see how much we're isolating the Russian regime right now — because we need to do so economically, politically and diplomatically — and what are the impacts also on society and how much we're seeing potential regime change in Russia," Canadian media quoted Joly as saying at a news conference on March 10.

The Russian statement condemned the "Russophobic attack" and said it would have serious consequences for relations. Russia reserved the right to take "appropriate countermeasures" depending on Ottawa's further steps.

"President Putin has invaded his neighbour and is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity," said Adrien Blanchard, a spokesperson for Joly. "As Minister Joly has said, we are focused on isolating the Russian regime, emptying its war chest and holding it to account for its crimes."

Canada, a member of NATO and the Group of Seven (G7) leading economies, has joined its Western allies in imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday Canada welcomed the International Criminal Court's move to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children's commissioner over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since the start of the war.

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Josie Kao

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