Canada threatens to withdraw from G8 summit in Russia

OTTAWA - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened Saturday he may join Washington in snubbing June's G8 summit in Russia over the country's military incursion into Ukraine, and recalled his ambassador to Moscow.

The Russian parliament's decision to give Putin the green light to send troops into neighbouring Ukraine triggered international outcry.

"We join our allies in condemning in the strongest terms President Putin's military intervention in Ukraine," Harper said in a statement.

"These actions are a clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are also in violation of Russia's obligations under international law."

US officials have warned that President Barack Obama and other European leaders were unlikely to show up at the G8 summit in the showcase Black Sea resort of Sochi if the Ukraine crisis was not resolved.

Harper's statement came after Obama spoke separately by telephone with him and French President Francois Hollande, leaders of Atlantic nations that along with Britain form the backbone of post-war Western resistance to the Soviet Union.

The prime minister also convened a meeting of his cabinet ministers to discuss the crisis.

"Canada recognises the legitimacy of the government of Ukraine. Ukraine's sovereign territory must be respected and the Ukrainian people must be free to determine their own future," Harper added.

"We call on President Putin to immediately withdraw his forces to their bases and refrain from further provocative and dangerous actions."

He said "Canada has suspended its engagement in preparations for the G8 summit, currently planned for Sochi, and the Canadian ambassador in Moscow is being recalled for consultations."

Ottawa also backed US calls for international monitors from the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to be immediately deployed to Ukraine, Harper said.

Canada has joined other allies in seeking a financial aid package for cash-strapped Ukraine.