Canada’s decision last week to send repaired parts of a Russian gas pipeline back to Germany was difficult but necessary, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday.
Liberals face heavy criticism from Ukraine for exempting six Siemens Energy turbines, which were serviced in Montreal and help deliver gas to parts of Germany, from sanctions on Russia for its invasion from Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters on a teleconference after a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Bali, Indonesia, Freeland said she understood Ukraine’s response but defended the government’s decision as the right one. to be taken under the circumstances.
“It was a very difficult decision for Canada and I understand Ukraine’s concern about it, but it was the right thing to do,” Freeland said.
“Canada is united and determined in its support of the Ukrainian people, we have provided $3.4 billion in total financial and military support and I am proud that Canada has led the way in many ways to support Ukraine and to oppose [Russian President] Vladimir Poutine.”
But Canada alone cannot provide Ukraine with the support it needs, Freeland said, adding that a united effort by other Canadian members of the G7 and the transatlantic alliance is needed to ensure this. support.
Freeland said Germany was convinced the pipeline, operated by Russian state energy company Gazprom, could be a problem for its leaders. Russia cut gas deliveries by 60% last month from its Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline that runs to northeast Germany, citing technical problems with the turbines.
“Canada has heard very clearly from our German allies that Germany’s ability to maintain support for Ukraine could be at risk,” Freeland said. The United States publicly supported Canada’s decision to return the turbines, a position Freeland called very important.
A parliamentary commission will study the question
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for his part, condemned the move as “absolutely unacceptable” earlier this week.
“The decision on the exception to the sanctions will be perceived in Moscow exclusively as a manifestation of weakness. This is their logic,” he said, adding that Russia will now try to limit or shut off the gas supply. of Europe at the most critical time.
In Ottawa, opposition MPs on Friday demanded that top Liberal cabinet ministers explain the controversial decision at a special meeting of the foreign affairs committee next week.
The Liberals have allowed Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to answer questions.
The Tories had called Freeland to appear, alleging she disagreed with the ruling that the Liberals were trying to shield her testimony ahead of her Saturday comments.
The committee will also invite the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the ambassadors of Ukraine, Germany and the European Union to Canada to testify.