WATCH: Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has escalated tensions in the region. Paul Johnson reports.
TORONTO – In a statement issued after an emergency cabinet meeting, Harper says Canada is recalling its ambassador from Moscow and pulling out of the G8 process being chaired by Russia.
Canada will boycott meetings leading up to the G8 summit planned for Sochi later this year, Harper said Saturday. However, Canadian athletes will still compete in the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, set to begin March 7.
“Ukraine’s sovereign territory must be respected and the Ukrainian people must be free to determine their own future,” Harper said in his statement.
“We call on President Putin to immediately withdraw his forces to their bases and refrain from further provocative and dangerous actions.”
He warns that should Putin push forward with military action, it will lead to “ongoing negative consequences” for Canada-Russia relations.
Crimea: Strategically placed, politically polarized
The federal government’s response was prompted by the Russian parliament’s approval of President Vladimir Putin’s motion to militarily intervene in Crimea.
Distinctly pro-Russia, the Crimean peninsula is a part of Ukraine separated from the rest of the country geographically, historically and politically.
It is also where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based.
International community calls on Putin to withdraw forces
The prime minister’s statement follows a previous release from the White House saying that Canada, France and and the US expressed “grave concern” with Russia’s military intervention in the beleaguered country.
The statement released through the US Press Secretary stated that Barack Obama spoke separately with Stephen Harper and French President Francois Hollande, and they agreed to ‘coordinate closely, including bilaterally, and through the appropriate international organizations.”
Obama was also in contact with Russian president Vladimir Putin Saturday.
WATCH: US Ambassador called upon Russia to pull troops from Crimea
Obama urged Russia to de-escalate the situation through withdrawal of Russian forces from Crimea, while Putin stressed that Russia has the right to protect its interests in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea and to prevent violence against the regions’ Russian-speakers.
Political turmoil in Ukraine pushed President Viktor Yanukovych from office following massive pro-democracy protests after he rejected a partnership agreement with the European Union in favour of deepening his country’s historical ties with Moscow.
WATCH: Stephen Harper and other world leaders are keeping a close watch of situation in Ukraine. Jacques Bourbeau reports
Demonstrators protest around the world
The prime minister wasn’t the only one holding impromptu meetings on Saturday to discuss Ukraine’s continuing political crisis.
While politicians meet behind closed doors, civilian protests continue across the world – from major cities in eastern and southern Ukraine to demonstrations in Toronto and Ottawa.
WATCH: Canadians protest at Russian embassy in Ottawa
With files from Global News’ Cindy Pom and The Canadian Press