By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly will visit Kyiv next week to reaffirm support for Ukrainian sovereignty and reinforce efforts to deter “aggressive actions” by Russia, Ottawa said on Saturday.
Moscow has stationed more than 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and the United States said on Friday it feared Russia was preparing a pretext to invade if diplomacy failed to meet its objectives.
Canada, with a sizeable and politically influential population of Ukrainian ethnic descent, has taken a hard line with Moscow since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“The amassing of Russian troops and equipment in and around Ukraine jeopardizes security in the entire region. These aggressive actions must be deterred,” Joly said in a statement.
“Canada will work with its international partners to uphold the rules-based international order.”
Joly will meet Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal and travel to the west of the country to speak to a 200-strong Canadian training mission that has been there since 2015.
Canadian Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Morgan and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman spoke on Friday and pledged continued close coordination to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine and called for Russian de-escalation, U.S. Department of State spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday and “emphasized that any military incursion into Ukraine would have serious consequences, including coordinated sanctions,” Trudeau’s office said.
Canada has imposed punitive measures on more than 440 individuals and entities over the annexation of Crimea.
Joly will also meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels during her week-long trip starting Sunday.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft)