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Russia says Canada joining military training in Ukraine ‘deplorable’

Ukrainian army tanks ride through a checkpoint near Horlivka, in the region of Donetsk, on February 23, 2015.
Ukrainian army tanks ride through a checkpoint near Horlivka, in the region of Donetsk, on February 23, 2015. ANATOLII STEPANOV / AFP / Getty Images

OTTAWA – The Harper government’s decision to join a U.S.-led military training mission Ukraine has drawn a sharp rebuke from Russia.

Canada is sending at least 200 members of the Canadian Forces to take part in a two-year deployment to improve the combat ability of troops in the embattled eastern European country.

In a statement, the Russian Embassy in Ottawa calls that “counterproductive and deplorable.”

It says the move does nothing to resolve the fracturing of Ukraine, and that Canada should be concentrating on diplomacy and political dialogue with the breakaway eastern regions of the country.

The Russians are also accusing Canada and the West of assisting in the military buildup and playing into the hands of the “party of war” in Kyiv.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney says the Canadian trainers will not be in harm’s way, some 1,300 kilometres from the restive districts of Ukraine.

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There, as many as 6,000 people have been killed in fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces.

The Canadians – along with U.S. and British forces – will be training Ukrainian soldiers and national guard troops in the finer points of modern combat, including how to defuse roadside bombs.