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Canada's Ukrainians urge Trudeau to refuse Russian demand to return gas turbine

07/07/2022 | 11:53am EDT
FILE PHOTO: Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion arrive in Winnipeg

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Ukrainian community is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to refuse to compromise the country's sanctions against Russia in order to return a turbine that Moscow says is critical for supplying natural gas to Germany.

Russia's state-controlled Gazprom cut the capacity along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 40% of usual levels last month, citing the delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany's Siemens Energy in Canada.

Canada has one of the world's biggest Ukrainian diasporas outside of countries that border Ukraine and has successfully pressured Ottawa to impose increasingly strict sanctions against Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.

Ukrainian Canadian Congress national president Alexandra Chyczij urged Trudeau, in a letter on Wednesday, to see through Russia's "obvious ploy" to divide Ukraine's allies.

Ottawa should instead broker a solution that does not involve waiving sanctions, she wrote in the letter, posted on the Congress's website.

"Any waiver of Canadian sanctions would be viewed as a capitulation to Russian blackmail and energy terrorism, and would only serve to embolden the Russian terrorist state," Chyczij said.

A Canadian government source said the Ukrainian government itself opposes the turbine's return.

Trudeau's office had no immediate comment on the letter.

"We will not stop imposing severe costs on the Putin regime while their unjustifiable invasion is ongoing and we will continue to support our European friends and allies," said Ian Cameron, spokesman for Canada's natural resources minister, in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Ottawa did not immediately comment.

The technical problem with the turbine is merely a Russian pretext, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said last week.

Canada, alongside its Western allies, has issued sweeping sanctions on Russia after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in what the Kremlin calls a "special military operation."

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

By Steve Scherer and Rod Nickel

© Reuters 2022
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