Canadians Have Friendly Attitude Toward Russia Despite West Fomenting Fears, Envoy Says

© LARS HAGBERGAn outside view of the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, on March 26, 2018.
An outside view of the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, on  March 26, 2018.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Despite the fears fomented against Russia by the Canadian government and the Western countries, the attitude of the Canadian people is friendly and diplomats experience no restrictions in carrying out their duties, Russian Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov said.
“Despite the fears fomented in the West - and, unfortunately, Canada is also having a hand in this - the attitude of the people toward us is friendly,” Stepanov said. “The situation around the Embassy and our Consulates General in Toronto and Montreal remains generally calm.”
Stepanov pointed out that the Russian diplomats have not experienced any limitations in carrying out their duties except for those necessitated by the epidemiological situation with respect to COVID-19.
“We have not yet observed restrictions for our work in Canada, with the exception of sanitary and epidemiological ones,” he said. “Channels of communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, official bodies, the academic community and the press are functioning normally.”
The ambassador went on to say that from time to me they see some protest activities near the premises of the diplomatic mission.
“Protest activities take place from time to time. Basically, they are held by the radical wing of the local Ukrainian community,” he said. “In such cases, we take the necessary security measures, we turn to law enforcement agencies for assistance. So that the right to protest is exercised peacefully, without provocations.”
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand gives news briefing after meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, Belgium February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.02.2022
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Commenting on the current situation around Ukraine and how it affects the ties between Russia and Canada, Stepanov said: “The Canadian political establishment and the media are trying to create an unfavourable background around Russia." According to the envoy, Canadians are scaring their country with almost a third world war by pushing this fictitious Russian "aggression" against Ukraine.

“It certainly does not bring joy to our relationship. We speak openly and privately: if you want peace in Ukraine, use your influence on Kiev, force the implementation of the Minsk package of measures and sit down at the negotiating table with the DPR and LPR. This is the only way to a peaceful settlement of the intra-Ukrainian conflict," he said.

According to the envoy, the dialogue between the diplomats and their counterparts is professional.

“Canada has a talented diplomatic service, with its own school and traditions. The dialogue is professional and mutually respectful...We have the opportunity to express our point of view, to listen to the Canadian one. Even when there are obvious political differences between our governments, diplomats must communicate," Stepanov said.

He emphasized that Russia does not look at Canada “through the optics of geopolitical rivalry.”

“And besides, we are Arctic neighbours. It's always good when the neighbourhood turns out to be good, isn't it?” he said. “Here I would like to note the current Russian chairmanship of the Arctic Council, where we work with Canadians pragmatically and without politicisation on topical issues of the northern agenda.”

Russia has submitted an official request to increase its consular presence in Canada, but so far has not received a clear response, Stepanov added. According to him, Russia needs a wider consular presence in Canada and is going to work with the Canadian authorities to explore the possibility of opening a diplomatic mission in Vancouver.
The Russian-Canadian trade relations are gradually reaching the pre-pandemic level, the envoy went on to say.

“In 11 months of 2021, our bilateral trade turnover exceeded $2 billion - according to the results of 2020 - a little more than 1.2 billion. At the same time, Russian exports increased significantly,” he explained.

The envoy said Canadian businesses have a serious interest in Russia and stressed that Russia is open to mutually advantageous cooperation.

Oleg Stepanov was appointed to assume his current post in March 2021. Prior to that, he had been leading the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Policy Planning Department since 2016. Stepanov joined the Foreign Ministry in 1994 and has since served in several roles, including as political and military counsellor for the Russian Embassy in the United States.
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