Russian Embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin unproductive

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin at a news conference this week.

But a leading expert on Russia and the Arctic is dismissing the dust-up as the result of a mistaken prime minister, and a junior Russian diplomat with an itchy Twitter finger.

Trudeau said on Wednesday during a Toronto press conference that Putin needs to start playing a more positive role in the world on a variety of fronts, from Ukraine, to Syria, to the Arctic, as well as answering for Russia’s role in the nerve gas attack in Britain two weeks ago.

RELATED: Foreign election interference a reality, says Trudeau after Putin re-election

The embassy tweeted its response on Thursday, accusing Trudeau of using confrontational and unproductive rhetoric.

Trudeau also said on Wednesday that Canada needs to be vigilant about protecting the integrity of its electoral systems from foreign interference. However, the Russian Embassy tweet did not mention election meddling.

Trudeau’s remarks came after several recent warnings about possible Russian interference in the 2019 federal election, including from eastern European diplomats in Ottawa, as well as top NATO researcher.

Trudeau listed some positive behaviour he said he’d like to see from Putin.

“Whether it’s pulling back of his engagement in the Donbass or leaving Crimea,” the prime minister said, “whether it’s taking responsibility for … the important questions that the U.K. has asked after the terrible poisoning incident a few weeks ago in Salisbury, whether it’s questions around NATO, questions around Syria, questions around the Arctic.”

The House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion this week that blames Russia for what it calls a despicable nerve gas attack in Britain that killed former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury. The British government says they were victims of a Russian nerve agent.

Trudeau’s final example of the Arctic drew the ire of the Russian Embassy in its tweet. The Arctic is one area where the two countries have tried to co-operate through the Arctic Council and bilaterally.

“We regret PM Trudeau’s confrontational rhetoric at yesterday’s Toronto press-conference prompted by UK slanderous Russophobic hysteria,” said Thursday’s tweet.

“This language of ultimatums is totally unacceptable & counterproductive, especially for bilateral dialogue on important issues, like the Arctic.”

Trudeau’s office did not reply to a request for comment on why he included a reference to the Arctic in his remarks, or whether Canada’s Arctic policy had taken a negative turn with Russia.

RELATED: Canadians joining #DeleteFacebook amid fears of electoral meddling

Michael Byers, an expert on the Arctic, dismissed the affair as an inconsequential chain of events.

“The prime minister made a tiny mistake and a junior diplomat picked up on it. End of story,” said Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia.

Byers said he has travelled to Moscow and met with Russian foreign ministry officials as part of his work on Arctic foreign policy.

“The Arctic is one of just a couple of places where Russian-Western co-operation remains good.”

Byers also said no weight should be given to the fact the statement was made on a Twitter account linked to the Russian Embassy.

He said the account is run by a press secretary “who is a very active tweeter — you might even call him a troll.”

Byers said he has blocked the account on Twitter.

“Yes, he is an employee of the Russian foreign ministry, but he is a long way from the centre.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Police arrest Indigenous pipeline protester occupying B.C. park

Led by Kanahus Manuel, the Tiny House Warriors moved into park in Clearwater last week

Police investigating more racist slogans on First Nations signs

Police are investigating racist graffiti being posted on First Nations signs in the Kamloops area

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Update: Kamloops wildfire now mapped at 500 hectares

Firefighters worked overnight on what was a fast-growing wildfire east of Kamloops.

Busy summer season for Clearwater’s Smokin True Ranch

By Jaime Polmateer It’s looking like a busy season for the Smokin… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Crews battle fire northeast of Terrace

The 10-hectare fire was discovered Saturday

Northern B.C. cadet goes from English Channel to BC Summer Games

Amber Ly is taking her experience aboard the tall ship Royalist with to Cowichan July 19-22

Intertidal Music Festival back for round two

More than 20 performances throughout the day at the North Pacific Cannery on July 21

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Most Read