Russia’s Foreign Ministry has entered the growing diplomatic rift between Canada and Saudi Arabia, warning Canadian critics of the Islamic kingdom not to claim “moral superiority.”
The row erupted after a tweet by the Canadian foreign ministry last Friday, in which it expressed “concerns” over the arrests of civil and women’s rights activists in the Saudi Arabia and called for their immediate release.
Riyadh responded by recalling its ambassador to Ottawa, expelling Canada’s ambassador Denis Horak, placing a ban on any new trade and denouncing Canada for interfering in its domestic affairs.
Now Russia has warned that Canada should drop the high “tone” it brings to the quarrel.
“We believe that Saudi Arabia, having embarked on a path of large-scale social and economic reforms, fully has the sovereign right to decide how to move forward in this important area,” Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement Wednesday. “In such matters, constructive advice and assistance are perhaps needed, but not from the position of ‘moral superiority’.”
Meanwhile Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has indicated she remains “seriously concerned” by Saudi Arabia’s actions, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to hold a press conference in Montreal to address the ongoing crisis.
“Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world,” a spokeswoman for Freeland said in a statement. “Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”
For its part, Saudi Arabia has announced it will remove all patients who are currently receiving treatment in Canadian hospitals, while Ottawa urges the Islamic kingdom to free all imprisoned human rights activists.
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