POLITICS

John Baird Again Compares Russians To Germans Before WW II

03/04/2014 03:01 EST | Updated 05/04/2014 05:59 EDT

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has repeated his charge that Russia's occupation of Crimea is like Germany's annexation of Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, just before the Second World War in 1938.

Baird met with Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko in his office on Parliament Hill Tuesday. Prystaiko handed Baird a letter from Ukraine's interim prime minister to give to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Speaking to reporters after finishing the closed-door meeting with Baird, Prystaiko said he agreed with Baird's comparison.

He pointed out that shortly after Hitler sent troops into the former Czechoslovakia and annexed Sudetenland, Germany crossed its border into Poland on the pretext that German citizens there were being shot at.

Prystaiko mentioned reports that Russian soldiers were shooting into the air in Crimea, adding that his fear is that once one side starts shooting, a war can be sparked.

Asked about Russian President Vladymir Putin's remarks Tuesday morning about how ousted former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych requested a Russian military presence in Crimea, he replied that was not constitutionally possible.

The decision to ask for military help, he said, can only be taken by the Ukrainian parliament and not by the president.

Pystaiko also criticized Canada's Russian Ambassador Georgiy Mamedov for coming to the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa and signing a book of condolences, while at the same time insisting that Yanukovych was still the legitimate leader of Ukraine.

Asked if the government should expel Memedov, Prstaiko replied, "I don't know if it helps."

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