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MOSCOW, March 07. /ITAR-TASS/. Canada is destroying positive ties by expelling Russian military students, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told Russian reporters, commenting on media reports that Canada was expelling Russian students who were in Canada in accordance with a bilateral exchange program.
The step is within Ottawa's unfriendly line formed in recent days to halt military contacts, including not to hold exercises and not to exchange visits, Antonov said.
The Canadian side seemed to try to be the leader among Western colleagues in steps against Russia. It was done unceremoniously and in a rough manner, destroying everything positive that was achieved with difficulty in the last few years, he said.
"We would like to note that we need military cooperation with Canada to the same extent as it needs cooperation with us. It was not "charity" on the part of Ottawa with regard to military exchanges, Antonov noted.
Canada was expelling nine Russian servicemen, who were in the country in accordance with a program of bilateral exchanges between the defense departments, Canadian government officials said, adding the Russians were informed on Thursday and given 24 hours to prepare to leave.
Six of the servicemen learned English and French in St. John, Quebec. Two were trained at an army base of Gagetown, New Brunswick, and one taught Russian to Canadian soldiers in Gatineau, Quebec.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that because of the events in Ukraine he had ordered to suspend all bilateral contacts between Canadian and Russian armed forces, saying it applied to drills, including the Vigilant Eagle exercises, and planned meetings.
The Russian-US-Canadian exercises Vigilant Eagle are held annually by air forces of Russia and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) from 2009.