OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has called in Russia’s ambassador to explain why two Canadian diplomats are being expelled from Moscow.
“We have a very serious objection to what has occurred,” Cannon told reporters prior to Wednesday’s government caucus meeting. He said he expected to speak to Ambassador Georgiy Mamedov later in the day, adding he’s concerned the move comes as NATO seeks warmer relations with Russia.
“I find it rather strange that this has happened considering that NATO has re-engaged with Russia.
“As you know, after the crisis in Georgia there was a break off … in the relationship and there has been a gradual re-engagement and now we’re seeing this occur.”
Isabelle Francois, director of the NATO information office in Moscow, and her deputy, Mark Opgenorth have been ordered out by the Russian Foreign Ministry
The Russians have said the move is in retaliation to NATO’s decision last week to rescind the credentials of two Russian diplomats in Brussels.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the NATO action a “provocative” move and backed out of a Russia-NATO council meeting scheduled for late May in protest.
Speaking about the Canadian expulsions, Lavrov told a Russian news agency on Wednesday that Moscow had to respond in this way.
“This is the law of genre, and our NATO partners, those behind the expulsion, could not have expected a different reaction,” the minister said.
He also called the expulsion of the two Canadians “the rules of the game.”
Cannon said he doesn’t know if the Russians are retaliating for the NATO action.
“That’s why I want to get it directly from the Russian ambassador. There is that interpretation, there might be other interpretations, but I want to get it directly from the ambassador.”