04/15/2014 05:02 EDT | Updated 06/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Canada boycotts Arctic Council Moscow meeting over Ukraine occupation

OTTAWA - Canada will boycott an upcoming meeting of the Arctic Council in Moscow because of the Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Leona Aglukkaq, the minister responsible for the Arctic Council, says Canada won't be attending a scheduled meeting later this week because of Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea.

Canada and Russia sat at the same Arctic Council table just three weeks ago in Yellowknife when senior officials from all eight countries last met.

Aglukkaq says the move is part of Canada's "tough stance" against Russia, which includes sanctions.

She says Canada will continue to support the work of the Arctic Council.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper characterized Russia's actions against Ukraine as "aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic" and a grave threat to world peace.