Canada skips Arctic Council meeting over Ukraine

Alona Aglukkaq was appointed Chair of Arctic Council in Kiruna in 2013.

Canada’s environment Minister and Chair of the Artic Council Leona Aglukkaq says Canada is taking a “principled stand” against Russia by not attending an Arctic Council meeting in Moscow this week.


Aglukkaq announced Tuesday afternoon that she would not attend the meetings in protest of Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine. The Arctic Council’s task force on black carbon and methane was scheduled to meet in Moscow for three days this week.

“As a result of Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine and its continued provocative actions in Crimea and elsewhere, Canada will not be attending working-group level meetings in Moscow this week,” Aglukkaq said in a statement, according to The Globe and Mail. “Canada will continue to support the important work of the Arctic Council.”

Ottawa says the decision to skip the meetings builds upon other tough measures Canada has already taken against Russia, including sanctions and travel bans.

The Canadian government imposed more travel bans and sanctions over the weekend in response to growing pro-Russia uprisings in eastern Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has stressed that Canada cannot sit by while Russia “illegally occupies Ukraine.”

However, the government went ahead with planned Arctic Council meetings last month, when representatives from all member states, including Russia, met in Yellowknife. A statement from Ms. Aglukkaq’s office on Tuesday said the decision to skip this week’s working group meetings builds on the “tough stance” Canada has taken against Russia.