Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the first Western leader to meet with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko after his inauguration on Saturday.
“I am here on behalf of the government of Canada to express our solidarity with the government of Ukraine as you stand up for your unity, your liberty and your territorial integrity,” Harper told Poroshenko.”We’re fully behind you on that. I also do want to express the solidarity of the Canadian people with the Ukrainian people in your aspiration for a democratic European future and not a return to the country’s Soviet past.”
Poroshenko is thankful for Canada’s support.
“We can open a new page of the program of cooperation between Ukraine and Canada,” he said. “Canada strongly supports Ukraine, Ukraine’s unity, Ukraine’s solidarity, Ukraine’s struggle for independence and territorial integrity.”
Out of all the Western countries, Canada has been the most vocal in its support of Ukraine and disdain for Russia’s actions. Russia made their moves towards Crimea after Ukraine’s parliament ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych on February 22. Canada immediately stopped all preparatory meetings for the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, and recalled their Russian ambassador. The members of the G8 slowly followed, but Canada was also the first G8 country to cancel their appearance at the summit. Russia was eventually kicked out of the group, and the meeting was moved to Brussels. It was held on June 6 and 7 for the first time without Russia in 17 years. Canada was also one of the first to threaten and impose sanctions on Russia.
Harper was also the first Western leader to visit Kiev after Yanukovych was ousted. Ukraine’s new Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, had to travel to meet with Western leaders while the countries sent other dignitaries to Ukraine. For example, Yatsenyuk traveled to the US to meet President Barack Obama. The only officials from the US to actually visit Kiev were Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). McCain visited with other senators. Obama met with Poroshenko in Warsaw on Tuesday, but Biden represented the US at Poroshenko’s inauguration.
Biden did meet with Harper after the inauguration.
“They re-affirmed the need for Russia to recognize the result of elections in Ukraine, to stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and end the violence in Ukraine,” said Harper’s office.