Russian President Vladimir Putin is not particularly interested in the West’s opinion of him. That’s according to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who noted on Wednesday that Putin says what he wants, when he wants.
Trudeau was speaking to the SiriusXM internet radio station, on the same day that Canada’s foreign ministry announced it would be sanctioning nine Russian officials for “gross and systematic violations of human rights in Russia.” In particular, they were dished out as a punishment for the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
“He’s not particularly interested in what the Western world and Canada think of him,” Trudeau said, as quoted by AFP. “He will look at you and say whatever is convenient to him at any given moment.”
The Canadian PM was also asked about a recent comment from US President Joe Biden. Last week, the American leader was asked by ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos whether he believes that the Russian leader is “a killer.” “Mmm-hmm, I do,” he replied.
“I’m sure [Putin] is responsible for all sorts of terrible things because his behavior continues to demonstrate that,” Trudeau said, without going so far to call the Russian president a killer. As examples of “terrible things,” he mentioned the situation in Crimea, “cyber attacks,” and “attempts to destabilize our democracies.”
“I certainly know he’s not someone who is supportive or a friend of Canada or Canadians in any way, shape, or form,” he concluded. “And we have to very much be wide-eyed and clear-eyed about how we approach [relations with Russia].”
On Thursday morning, Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau accused the Russian leadership of “repeatedly shown its unwillingness to respect the basic rights of its own people,” noting that Ottawa would “continue to increase pressure” on Moscow to release Navalny and “his supporters who have been unlawfully detained.”
Canada’s sanctions follow in the footsteps of similar measures taken by the EU and the US. In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that Russia would “react accordingly.”
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