Putin has ‘let slip the dogs of war’: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Amid allegations that Russian-backed separatists are actively impeding the investigation into Thursday's downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine territory, the international community is expressing its anger.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said that he wants justice and that justice needs to start with a "credible unimpeded independent investigation" of what happened.

"I'm very very disturbed by reports of the careless, even callous way in which the crash site has been treated," Baird said via a teleconference in the U.K., with reports suggesting that Russian rebels were removing bodies and evidence from the crash site and threatening international investigators.

"Let me spell out the obvious...this tragedy is a direct product of Russian military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine. President Putin's continued support for armed groups in Eastern Ukraine constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

"To borrow a phrase from the famous English writer, he has 'let slip the dogs of war.' And now he has to face up to the consequences."

[ Related: Dutch inspectors to rebels: Train full of Malaysia Airlines bodies must be allowed to leave ]

Thursday's plane crash — which the United States alleges was caused by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists — is just the latest vexation by Russia in Ukraine.

Throughout the ongoing conflict, Canada has been one of Russia's most vocal critics, of their annexation of Crimea and their provocations in Eastern Ukraine. The prime minister was quick to impose sanctions and travel bans against Russian officials and has consistently chided Putin's inaction towards peace in the region.

Baird says that the Canadian government will soon announce new sanctions "against a broad range of Russian people and entities."

Those sanctions will likely be in-line with the United States and the European Union.

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama indicated that he's willing to ramp his countries actions against Russia.

"My preference continues to be finding a diplomatic resolution within Ukraine. I believe that can still happen," Obama said on the front lawn of the White House.

"If Russia continues to violate Russia's sovereignty and backs the separatists and these separatists become more and more dangerous and now are a risk, not simply to the people inside Ukraine, but the broader international community then Russian will only further isolate itself from the international community and the costs for Russia's behaviour will only continue to increase."

And, according to the Telegraph newspaper, EU ministers will, on Tuesday, agree to "Tier 3 sanctions."

"They are likely to be 'sectoral sanctions' with the EU collectively deciding which sectors it is willing to hit. The US imposed sanctions affecting the oil sector but not the gas sector. Europe may well follow suit as oil is easier to get from another source than gas," notes the article.

"The asset freezes and travel bans could target major Russian companies listed on the London Stock Exchange such as Rosneft and Gazprom, the energy giants, as well as oligarchs who have supported Mr Putin."

The EU, notes the article, is also considering asset freezes against Putin's billionaire "cronies."

[ Related: Fighting flares in centre of Donetsk, five dead ]

During his press conference, Baird seemed to concede that the sanctions, to date, haven't garnered much success in thwarting Putin's geo-political aspirations.

"Sanctions didn't work in the short term in Burma, they didn't work in the short-term in South Africa," he said

"But in the end persistence paid off."

(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)

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