Trudeau hesitant to expel Russian diplomats, but Ottawa considering it

“We know very well that (these) Russian diplomats are sharing disinformation. It’s a problem.”

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains concerned about the effects of expelling Russian diplomats from Canada.

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“I’m just not convinced that the symbolic gesture of expelling (them) is worth the cost of losing our diplomats in Moscow,” he said Wednesday morning before heading to the Liberal caucus meeting.

He nevertheless said that an expulsion was being considered, insisting the decision had to be made very carefully.

“Canadian diplomats in Russia are doing extremely important work to know what is happening in Russia, to create relations at a time of crisis and war,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister also condemned the actions of representatives of Moscow on Canadian soil.

“We know very well that (these) Russian diplomats are sharing disinformation. It’s a problem.”

The list of countries that have decided to expel the Russian delegation to their territory in response to the invasion of Ukraine has grown recently. Germany and France have been added, among others.

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Trudeau noted that the size of the Canadian team in Moscow had already shrunk since the annexation of Crimea.

Since the early days of the war in Ukraine, the Conservatives have been calling for Ottawa to declare the Russian ambassador to Canada persona non grata. Leaving the Conservative caucus meeting, Deputy Leader Luc Berthold reiterated this request, which also applies to other Moscow diplomats on Canadian soil.

“I think the images we’ve seen lately are absolutely abominable. Nobody can accept that, and we have to toughen it up even more . . . through the expulsion of the propagandists of the Putin regime in Canada,” he said.

Images from Boutcha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, showing the corpses of civilians have sparked outrage around the world. The Associated Press reported that several civilians appeared to have been shot at close range and some had their hands tied or their flesh burned.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said she wanted to make sure that the Russian ambassador to Canada sees these images as well as those from the town of Irpin.

To this end, Joly asked her deputy minister to summon the representative of Moscow, she indicated on the sidelines of a meeting with her NATO counterparts in Brussels.

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